Athletes, walkers and anyone enjoying exercise may suffer occasional strains or injury. The best strains and sprains treatment is RICE, but we don’t mean eating rice! RICE is an easy acronym to help you remember the four essential parts of any successful treatment for strains and sprains:
Rest for Recovery
For a severe sprain, the first 48 hours are a critical time for treatment. Rest is vitally important and any activities using the injured area, such as walking or carrying, should be avoided. You may find it helpful to immobilize the strained joint by using a splint, sling or crutches as part of the recommended rest treatment for strains and sprains.
How to Use Ice for Sprains and Strains Treatment
Use ice to help heal the injured area, reduce inflammation and prevent unnecessary swelling. Prepare an ice pack from a bag of frozen peas or vegetables which will mold gently around the injured area. Alternatively, use ice cubes in a pillow case, or freeze water in a paper cup and peel away the paper as the ice melts.
Related: The Bone-Blood Connection
Apply the ice pack to the injured area for 20 minutes maximum every 3-4 hours, refreezing those frozen peas for re-use. Tips for how to apply an ice pack can be helpful. Two important parts of the ice treatment for strains and sprains is to apply it as quickly as possible after the injury has occurred. Apply the ice directly to the skin if possible, moving the pack around.
Apply an elastic bandage to the injured area, overlapping each layer by 50% to provide firm compression without reducing the circulation. If the fingers or toes start to turn blue, it means the compression bandage is too tight and immediately should be re-wrapped less tightly. Compression helps control the swelling of the area as part of the strains and sprains treatment guidelines.
Elevate the Injured Area
To aid circulation, keep the injured area as high as possible. If the leg is affected, raise it on a cushion supported on a stool or chair. When sleeping, put a pillow under the affected limb and raise it above the level of the heart if possible.
If the injury and swelling do not improve after 24-48 hours of RICE treatment for strains and sprains, you need to seek professional medical help to check that no bones have been broken. The doctor may x-ray the injury, immobilize it with a plaster cast or may even recommend surgery. However, implementing the RICE technique from the outset means you have provided the very best strains and sprains treatment possible for a speedy recovery.