Sporting Injury Treatment With Ice

Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation - key features in treating sporting injuries

Treating sports injury or sporting injuries using ice has long been a mainstay of good care for injured athletes. At one time it was simply a matter of grabbing a bag of frozen vegetables from the ice box but of course - in today's world - there are clear guidelines and tips that will help make the treatment more effective.

The article below is written by a true expert in the field of sports injury diagnosis.

Louise Roach has developed a highly effective modern version of the ice pack. Her SnowPack website contains a huge amount of useful information on the use of ice in the treatment of joint and muscle injury. 

Why R.I.C.E.?
By Louise Roach

What is R.I.C.E. and why do you need it?  One of the most recommended icing techniques for pain relief, reducing inflammation and treating minor injuries is R.I.C.E., an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation.  It is best used for pulled muscles, sprained ligaments, soft tissue injury, and joint aches.  Applying R.I.C.E. treatments will decrease inflammation and swelling, offer pain relief, and lessen muscle spasms and tissue damage.  It achieves this by reducing blood flow from local vessels near the injury and decreasing fluid hemorrhaging as a result of cell damage.

To administer R.I.C.E. use the following guidelines suggested by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

Rest: Stop using the injured body part immediately.  If you feel pain when you move, this is your body sending a signal to decrease mobility of the injured area.

Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injury, using a towel or cover to protect your skin from frostbite.  The more conforming the ice pack the better, in order for the injury to receive maximum exposure to the treatment, therefore better pain relief.

Compression: Use a pressure bandage or wrap over the ice pack to help reduce inflammation that can be associated with the injury.  Never tighten the bandage or wrap to the point of cutting off blood flow.  You should not feel pain or a tingly sensation while using compression.

Elevation: Raise or prop up the injured area so that it rests above the level of your heart.

How long should an ice pack be applied while practicing R.I.C.E. for it to be effective?  There are four levels of cold felt by the skin:

  1. Coldness
  2. A prickly or burning sensation
  3. A feeling of aching pain
  4. And finally, a lack of sensation or numbness. 

When the area feels numb, icing should be discontinued.  The skin should return to normal body temperature before icing again.  Usually numbness can be achieved in 10 to 20 minutes.  Never apply ice for more than 30 minutes at a time or tissue damage may occur. 

It is generally recommended to practice R.I.C.E. at intervals of 4 to 6 hours for up to 48 hours after an injury.  Heat treatments are appropriate for some injuries, but should only be considered after inflammation has receded, approximately 72 hours after an injury.  If the body part does not respond to R.I.C.E. therapy within 48 hours, consult your health care provider in the event a serious injury has occurred such as internal bleeding or a broken bone.

For pain relief and inflammation of minor injuries, use R.I.C.E. instead of plain ice!

About the Author: Louise Roach is a health and fitness editor, marketing specialist, and product development consultant. She helps others find natural pain relief through the use of SnowPack ice packs

Learn more about the benefits of ice therapy or order SnowPack products at  

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.                       

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Doctor Cameron also provides online information about other joint pain topics including shoulder pain, frozen shoulder and about how joint injections can help to treat pain or stiffness. If you browse around his other sites you will find lots of related health information - much of it also dealing with joint pain, muscle pain and sports injury.