First Aid Basics – RICE Treatment

For joint or muscular injuries that do not require immediate medical attention such as strains and sprains, RICE treatment is the most effective care. RICE treatment is just one of the many first aid techniques that are covered in almost every Standard First Aid class. To be fully prepared for any first aid emergency, taking a local in-person class is always the best course of action.

The term “RICE” is an acronym for its individual treatment components: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. Simply remember the term “RICE” to give proper RICE injury treatment each time it is needed.


Resting the injured area for at least 24 to 48 hours is extremely important. Working through the pain or ignoring the injury will only serve to make it worse, and can sometimes cause permanent damage in extreme cases. Refrain from any movements or activities are causing you pain, and allow the injury time to heal. You might even need to use crutches or a sling to sufficiently rest the affected area.


The next step in RICE treatment is to ice the sprain or strain about every 3 to 4 hours for 20 minutes at a time. This cycle should continue for at least 48 hours following the injury. Popular methods are: frozen bags of vegetables, an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel, or a freezer bag of ice cubes. Never ice an injury for more than 20 minutes at a time. Excessive contact with extreme cold could cause tissue damage.


You will need to compress the area to keep down swelling. An Ace bandage is the best compression tool; simply wrap it around the affected area making sure it overlaps the elastic by one half-width. The bandage should be snug, but it should not cut off any circulation. If your fingers or toes become cold or start to tingle, re-wrap immediately using less force.


Lastly, make sure that you comfortably elevate the sprain or strain during the final part of the RICE treatment. Elevate for as long as possible and try to keep the injury above the level of your heart for best results.

If the injury worsens after RICE injury treatment, or you notice unnatural swelling or discoloration of the area, be sure to have it immediately examined by a medical professional.

To learn more about RICE treatment and other first aid related techniques, visit Professional Training Institute to sign up for a local CPR and First Aid class in Sacramento, Modesto, or Stockton.


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