Friday, 2 March 2012

The RICE Principle for Soft Tissue Injury

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What is the RICE principle for a soft tissue injury?

Strains and sprains can be very painful, but the pain doesn't always show up immediately following an injury. It is common for 1st or 2nd degree injuries to become more painful the day following when inflammation sets in and the area becomes stiff. Whether you feel immediate pain or not, the following steps should be taken to decrease the amount of pain and inflammation that will occur in the first 72 hours of injury. This will also help to limit the amount of scar tissue build up during the second stage of the healing process.

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

REST. This is especially important for lower body injuries such as ankle sprains. Keeping weight off the injured area will ensure no further damage to the already compromised tissue.

ICE. Ice is extremely important to control the amount of inflammation (swelling) that occurs to heal a soft tissue injury. Inflammation is necessary for the healing process, but too much inflammation will cause excess scar tissue and increase healing time. Ice should be applied to the injury for 10-15 minutes every few hours for up to 72 hours after the incident. Ice is the main pain reliever of RICE, some suggest you reapply as soon as the skin rewarms. Do not leave ice on the skin for more than 15 minutes as this can lead to frostbite.

COMPRESSION. Compression is also a useful tool to help limit swelling. It's as simple as using an ACE bandage or tensor to wrap the injury such as ankle or wrist. Be cautious not to cut off circulation into toes or fingers.

ELEVATION. As much as possible keep the injury higher than your heart, especially at night. This will promote circulation in the proper direction to help control swelling.

MASSAGE. The RICE principle uses 4 different methods to help decrease inflammation and manage pain in the first stage (72 hours) of a soft tissue injury. These same 2 properties are also major components of massage. Not only can massage promote the healing process but it is also useful in the second stage of soft tissue injury, which lasts from 72 hours up to 6 weeks. Once the initial pain and swelling has decreased, scar tissue begins to build up and range of motion is often decreased. Massage in the second stage of healing will help to limit and breakdown excess scar tissue. Enabling a faster and more efficient recovery.

Mike Booth is owner of Massage Athletica in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He has a keen interest in working with athletes to help enhance recovery and boost performance, well before they become injured! Reach Mike at Massage Therapy Winnipeg

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