We are starting a new segment on our blog that we are calling the Student Corner. These posts will be written by students in our undergraduate athletic training education program and will be filled with useful information for the masses! Our first entry was written by Keenan Kidd and it contains information on what to do in the acute (initial) stage after an injury. We hope you enjoy!
In athletics and in active populations, injuries are something that are bound to happen and it is important to know how to deal with the injury in order to reduce the risk of a secondary injury to the limb. In the case of an acute injury the mnemonic device R.I.C.E will help with dealing with the injury.
R- The “R” in rice stands for rest and is used to restrict the activity. Allowing the injured body part (let us use the ankle for this example) allows the healing process to begin. If the injured limb is still participating in normal activities, then the healing process never gets a chance to begin. While the patient must rest to improve, that doesn’t mean that they are completely restricted from all activities in their daily lives. The patient should still be able to do things such as normal flexibility training and cardiovascular fitness as long as it doesn’t involve the injured limb.
I– The “I” in RICE stands for ice. Ice is a very important step and is the initial treatment that many clinicians use for most injuries that involve the musculoskeletal system. Ice can be used to reduce pain and promote vasoconstriction which can help with controlling edema and hemorrhaging. Ice also helps stop muscle guarding that can occur with an injury as a natural reflex. During this stage of RICE the patient might complain of sensations such as the sensation of extreme cold, a burning sensation, aching, and finally numbness.
C- Compression is for the “C” in RICE. Compression is a very important step because it helps to manually control swelling. Doing so reduces the amount of space available for swelling. The use of an elastic wrap is an effective way to apply pressure evenly. Keeping the compression wrap on may be uncomfortable for the patient, but it is necessary and should be worn for at least 72 hours after an acute injury. Care should be taken to ensure that the wrap is not placed on too tight as to restrict bllod flow to the extremity.
E– “E” the final letter in the acronym RICE, stands for the process of elevation. The injured part typically being a limb that is injured should be elevated to help with the effects that came from gravity with blood that can be pooling in the extremity. The higher the elevation of the extremity injured the more effective it will be in eliminating swelling. During the first 72 hours the extremity should be elevated for as long as possible.