First Aid

RICE, it’s not just for dinner…

Back in the 1980’s I fell off my bike and hurt my ankle. I’m telling you this now because there was no social media back then. 🙂


I was looking through some stock images today and ran across one that struck me.  Man, I thought, that kiddo is going to have a tough time recovering from that knee injury if he doesn’t take it easy the next several days.  Then I got to thinking about the other injuries he might have, such as an ankle injury, elbow injury, injuries to his ribs, or perhaps a minor concussion.  I stopped myself and thought, is this normal?  Probably not.  It is probably due to the fact that I spent so many years working as a paramedic that I automatically see the worst possible outcome in so many situations.  When I say, “Be safe”, I mean it.

What this doesn’t change however, is the treatment that you would give to someone with a sprained ankle, knee, or any other joint for that matter.  It really is as simple as some anti-inflammatory medication (naproxen or ibuprofen) and RICE.  No this isn’t some homeopathic remedy made from Uncle Ben’s Minute Rice I swear.  RICE stands for:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Without getting too technical describing the how and why, when your body sustains an injury such as a sprain, it sends lots of extra blood to the area full of extra goodness to start the healing process.  Unfortunately, all this extra blood in the area causes swelling and swelling causes increased pain.  What we want to do is alleviate the pain for the first few days following an injury before we start slowly moving back into normal movements of the joint.  Here is how each component of RICE helps with the swelling.

Anti-Inflammatory medication: Since the injury causes inflammation, and inflammation causes swelling, and swelling causes increased pain, this can help.

  • Rest – You don’t want to irritate the injury any more than possible.  Keep resting it for the first few days.
  • Ice – Cold causes blood vessels to restrict.  If the blood vessels are restricted, they can’t move as much blood to the area, thereby reducing swelling.  Remember to always keep a cloth or some barrier between your skin and the ice.  You don’t want to get frostbite.  Use ice for 20 minutes or so a few times a day.
  • Compression – By compressing the area, you physically give the tissues less area to swell.  Use an ACE bandage to wrap the affected area.  Keep it wrapped for a few days.  Be sure not to wrap it too tight!  If the area beyond the wrap starts having any circulation problems like coolness of the skin, discoloration of the skin, or numbness, take the wrap off right away.
  • Elevation – Blood causes swelling.  Blood is a liquid.  Liquids are affected by gravity.  These three things mean that if you elevate the injured area (preferably above your heart) it will cause the blood to flow away from the injury more easily instead of hanging around and causing more swelling and pain.

So next time you injure yourself, or perhaps a friend or loved one has tried to do something stupid like ride their bike off of the garage roof, remember to take some anti-inflammatory medicine and REST!

Share and like this so I know you guys are out there.

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