July 1, 2009— -- Question: What is the RICE method for dealing with sports injuries?
Answer: RICE is an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation. We sometimes use the acronym RICEM, adding medication to that acronym.
Rest can be anything from simply stopping the inciting activity, whether it's basketball or running or some other sport. And it can be as involved as using crutches or putting that joint, be it an ankle or a knee, in a brace or a cast -- so, rest, basically getting your limb to the point where it's not hurting.
Ice is pretty self-evident. Ice is readily available and we recommend icing a joint, or the injured joint, for 20 minutes at a time, every three to four hours or as needed for pain. Ice can be used in block form, more often we recommend using a bag of frozen peas or a bag of crushed ice on the affected joint.
Compression, the most common form of compression, is use of an elastic bandage such as an ACE wrap or an elastic sleeve to limit the swelling of the injured joint. And these are readily available at your local pharmacy.
And then finally, elevation. For the lower extremity injuries, such as a knee or ankle, we recommend elevating it at or above the level of your heart. And so most often that requires lying on a couch or a bed with some pillows beneath the ankle or injured joint.
And then finally, if you want to add the "m" and make it a RICEM, then we recommend adding an anti-inflammatory medication, the type you can buy over the counter, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.