RICE: Routine Care for Injuries

The routine care of many injuries includes Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE).

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Rest is needed to allow your body to heal. Routine activities can usually be resumed when comfortable. Injured tendons and bones can take up to 6 weeks to heal. Tendons are the cord-like structures that attach muscle to bone.

  • Ice following an injury helps keep the swelling down and reduces pain.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. Do this while awake, for the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, continue as directed by your caregiver.

  • Compression helps keep swelling down. It also gives support and helps with discomfort. If an elastic bandage has been applied, it should be removed and reapplied every 3 to 4 hours. It should not be applied tightly, but firmly enough to keep swelling down. Watch fingers or toes for swelling, bluish discoloration, coldness, numbness, or excessive pain. If any of these problems occur, remove the bandage and reapply loosely. Contact your caregiver if these problems continue.

  • Elevation helps reduce swelling and decreases pain. With extremities, such as the arms, hands, legs, and feet, the injured area should be placed near or above the level of the heart, if possible.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have persistent pain and swelling.

  • You develop redness, numbness, or unexpected weakness.

  • Your symptoms are getting worse rather than improving after several days.

These symptoms may indicate that further evaluation or further X-rays are needed. Sometimes, X-rays may not show a small broken bone (fracture) until 1 week or 10 days later. Make a follow-up appointment with your caregiver. Ask when your X-ray results will be ready. Make sure you get your X-ray results.