How to Use RICE Correctly

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Using RICEYou’ve hurt your foot, spraining your ankle and possibly some other ligaments. What is the first thing you should do to encourage a speedy recovery and get on the path to healing? While there are a few options that could help you, one of the most well-known is RICE therapy. Using it correctly, however, is the key to its effectiveness.

RICE therapy as a first aid treatment isn’t hard to use. The name says it all: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. These four basic steps help you address swelling and pain from a soft tissue injury in the first couple of days after you get hurt. That way you’re able to begin rehabilitation and reconditioning as soon as possible.

Here’s how to use RICE therapy correctly:

  • Rest – Rest means taking an immediate break from the activity that caused your injury, and also scaling back on any activities that could make your discomfort worse. This does mean taking a break from sports and, in many cases, limiting how much weight you put on your injured foot. As you begin rehabilitation, you’ll slowly go back to normal activities.
  • Ice – Icing the foot decreases swelling and alleviates some pain. After you injure your foot, wrap an ice pack in a towel or other cloth and apply it to the painful area. Only leave this on for 20 minutes at a time to avoid issues like frostbite. After 20 minutes, remove the ice. Apply ice 3-4 times a day while using RICE.
  • Compress – Compression also controls swelling. Carefully wrap your foot in a compression bandage. Make sure the wrap isn’t too tight or too loose.
  • Elevate – Elevation helps prevent swelling. Prop your foot up throughout the first few days of your injury, so it’s parallel to the ground. This keeps fluid from pooling in your lower limb.

After a couple of days, as your pain goes away, your injury will be ready for physical therapy to prevent stiffness and restore strength and range of motion. It’s best to work with experts like our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. to make sure you perform the best exercises for your condition. If you’re using RICE for any foot injury, let us know so we can help! Make an appointment online, or call (303) 805-5156 to reach our Castle Pines, Parker, or Cherry Creek offices.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC
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