If you suffer from a soft tissue injury – be it a sprain, strain, muscle pull, or tear – properly handling the immediate treatment can do wonders to prevent further complications and help you heal faster. To relieve pain and reduce swelling as soon as possible, all you need to know is one acronym: RICE.
- Rest. After suffering an injury (especially to the ankle or knee), the first thing to do is to get off of your feet. Trying to push through the pain or “walk it off” will only further damage your tissue or ligaments. If necessary, have one or two friends help to escort you to a safe area where you can sit or lay down.
- Ice. Whether it is a cold pack, bag of ice, or frozen peas, cold treatment will provide short-term pain relief and minimize swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. In order to prevent frost bite, never apply ice directly to the skin – instead, wrap it in a towel. 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off is a good balance to alleviate pain without putting yourself at risk for skin damage.
- Compression. Wrapping the affected area with an Ace bandage is another way to reduce swelling and promote faster recovery, just be careful not to wrap it too tight. Signs that it is too tight include numbness, tingling, and swelling in the area below the bandage.
- Elevation. Keep the injured area above heart level any time you are sitting or lying down. For instance, if you sprained your ankle, prop it up on a couple of pillows so that it is higher than your chest – this can help cut down on swelling.
If you follow the RICE method, you should begin to feel significant improvement within 72 hours for minor sprains and strains. If after three days of resting, icing and compressing, you don’t feel any relief, or the pain gets worse, it is time to contact a medical professional.
If you live in Fairfield County CT, help is readily available from the orthopedic specialists at OSG. As southern Connecticut’s largest orthopedic practice, we have three convenient locations fully staffed with a team of doctors dedicated to getting you healthy. Visit our website for more information or schedule an appointment with one of our licensed practitioners by calling (203) 337-2600.