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R.I.C.E. - Your self help formula for injury

R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and is the standard formula used by health care professionals for treating moderate musculoskeletal trauma within the first 48 hours of injury. The R.I.C.E. formula is the first stage on the road to recovery whether the injury is sustained during sport or shopping.

Stress on the injured area should be removed as far as possible to prevent any further tissue damage. An injury occurring during a sporting activity can result in increased level of inflammation because the injured area is perfused with more blood to cope with the activity of sport. Resting the area decreases this blood flow to the area as the metabolic requirements are reduced.

Ice, or cold packs should be applied to reduce the swelling and reduce pain. Cold causes vasoconstriction decreasing the blood flow to an area, which reduces any bleeding or inflammation. The application of cold also numbs the area by overloading thermoreceptors, so that pain signals cannot reach the brain. Do not apply ice directly to the skin as it may burn and cause damage. Wrap any ice or cold pack used with a cloth such as a tea-towel. Only apply the ice until the area is cold and then remove - the ice pack can then be re-applied ten to fifteen minutes later. There is a risk of frostbite if ice is continually applied to an area. Remember that freezers run at a temperature of around -13 degrees centigrade, which is beyond what our bodies are designed to cope with. Be careful.

The area can be lightly compressed with a bandage to reduce the amount of inflammation build up. Do not bandage the area so tightly that the blood supply is cut off. You should be able to insert a finger under the bandage once it is applied.

Using gravity to remove the excess tissue fluid caused by the injury helps reduce the inflammation. Gravity then helps pull the fluid back to the core, and back into the circulation. This helps remove the debris of the injury and pain-causing chemicals produced during the injury process.

Hitchin Osteopathic Clinic, Old Park Dental Surgery, 72 Old Park Road, Hitchin, Hertfordshire SG5 2JT 01462 432609