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Sports Injury Got You Down? Use RICE

You’re running a 5K, hitting the basketball court or playing a tennis match when you feel it – sudden pain. What do you do? Should you see a doctor?

“For minor sports injuries such as sprains, strains, and severe bruises and bumps, you can use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method,” says Gabe Lewullis, MD, of LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine. Follow these tips as soon as possible after an injury:

  • Rest. Pain is your body’s way of telling you to rest an injured area. At the first sign of injury, stop what you’re doing – continuing the activity could make your injury worse and increase your recovery time.

  • Ice. Ice is a great pain reliever. It numbs the injured area and reduces swelling. Ice is most effective immediately after an injury. Follow these steps:

    1. Wrap an ice pack in a thin towel or cloth. Put it on the injured area for 20 minutes and then remove it for 20 minutes. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

    2. Repeat this cycle every 20 minutes for up to three hours. If that’s too uncomfortable, leave the ice on for 20 minutes once every hour.

    3. Continue as often as you feel comfortable over the next day or so. Don’t leave the ice on for more than 20 minutes at a time.

  • Compression. Putting pressure on an injury helps prevent swelling and gives support. Here’s how:

    1. Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage. If your hand or foot tingles, changes color or feels cold, the bandage may be too tight.

    2. If the bandage becomes loose, rewrap it.

    3. Don’t wear an elastic bandage overnight.

  • Elevation. Keeping an injury raised helps reduce swelling. Keep the injured part above the level of your heart.

“If you follow the RICE method, you should see improvements within 24 to 36 hours. If your injury doesn’t get better, it’s time to get it examined a health care provider,” Lewullis says.

Seeing a LVHN sports medicine provider is easy with online booking. Make your appointment at LVHN.org/sportsmedappointment.