It is important to treat any injury as soon as possible to help control swelling and increase recovery time. The recognized regimen for immediate treatment of sport injuries includes rest, ice (cold application), compression, and elevation (RICE). Remove the injured athlete from play, apply ice to the affected area, wrap or compress the injured area with an elastic bandage when appropriate, and elevate the injured area above heart level to reduce swelling.
Rest the area. Do not move the injured area. Splint or immobilize the area if needed.
Apply ice or cold application to the area. Ice helps to promote local constriction of blood vessels, which in turn helps to control swelling. Ice also helps decrease pain to the injured area. Ice should be applied at least 72 hours following the injury. Ice should be left on the injured area for approximately 20 minutes (longer for areas with more muscle/fat, such as the thigh). Remember to place a towel over the skin before applying a commercial ice pack.
Apply an elastic wrap over and around the injured area to help reduce swelling. Using medium tightness, begin the wrap at the distal end of the limb (furthest away from your body) and wrap to the proximal end of the limb (closes to your body). For example, if an elastic wrap is needed for an ankle sprain, begin at the ball of the foot (leave toes exposed), and spiral up ending about mid-calf.
Elevate the injured area to help reduce swelling around the injury site.
Reprinted with the permission of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.