September 27

Impressive Effect of RICE on Tissue Injury



RICE is mnemonic for Rest, Ice, Comprehension and Elevation. It represents series of management procedures for injuries, especially soft tissue injuries.

Good examples of soft tissue injuries are bruises, ligament sprains, and muscle strains.

It should be applied once the injury occurs. In addition, its application must continue for the next 48 hours after the said injury or bruise.

With Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation, you can effectively reduce injury pain. Also, it can reduce swelling associated with soft tissue injury. Consequently, the injury will get healed faster.


Rest simply means taking a break from excessive activities. Such activities could have caused the joint, bone or muscle injury.  Such rest helps give the injury chance to heal.

RICE – Rest

The rest must focus on protecting the injured body part. For example, an injured upper extremity should be managed by reducing movement of the affected arm. The arm needs to be rested till the injury heals.

Ordinarily, soft tissue injuries tend to take longer to heal. However, they heal faster with rest.  Lack of rest equally culminates into chronic inflammation or abnormal tissue repair.

What to do

  • Rest the injured part for at least 2 days after the injury
  • Also, see your doctor if the injury gets serious.
  • Generally, the doctor would provide you with crutches if lower extremities are affected.
  • However, a splint or cast will be perfect for injured arms.


The inflammation and swelling around the injured area can be controlled using ice. Put the ice on the injured area as soon as possible after the injury. The injury heals faster if the ice is applied immediately .

RICE – Ice

What to do

  • Never apply the ice directly on the skin
  • Instead, wrap it in a piece of cloth or towel
  • Placing it directly on the skin can lead to frostbite or ischemia
  • Alternatively, you can go for frozen corn, peas or any other vegetable.
  • Moreover, you can use cold water if ice or frozen vegetable is not available.
  • Let the ice remain for about 20 minutes on the injury.
  • Afterwards, remove it for another 20 minutes.
  • Then, allow the injured area to assume room temperature.
  • Repeat this process for as many times as necessary.

Note: Use the ice as many times as possible during the first 2 days of the injury. However, do not apply the ice for too long. Such prolonged application can result into delayed healing.


Compression can limit the swelling in the injured area. Additionally, it provides support for the injured area.

credit: veinmedic
credit: veinmedic

Undoubtedly, compression is inevitable when soft tissue injury occurs. However, prolonged compression can result into ischemia. This is caused by slowing of blood flow to the affected area.

Furthermore, prolonged compression can cause excessive pain and loss of function.

Items used for compression

  • Piece of clothing
  • Trainer’s tape
  • Elastic bandage
  • Compression stocking
  • Compression sleeves

Important notes:

  • Do not tie the cloth too firmly. If too tight, it can obstruct blood flow to the area.
  • Blood flow obstruction will culminate into delayed healing.
  • Also, do not use firm plastic bandage, like zinc-oxide tape.
  • Firm plastic bandage is non-elastic. As a result, it reduces blood flow, which can result into ischemia.
  • Furthermore, ensure the fit is snug to prevent free movement.
  • However, it should still allow some expansion for the muscles to contract.
  • Notably, compression sleeves and stockings manage the swellings perfectly.
  • Additionally, they manage chronic and acute swelling, like in congestive heart failure.


Elevation uses gravity to decrease swelling.

What to do

  • Ensure you keep the injured part above the level of the heart.
  • Consequently, blood will flow away from the area back to the heart.
  • Therefore, the swelling and pain will reduce.

Variation to RICE

  • DRICE: Acronym for Diagnosis, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • RICER: Acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral
  • PRINCE: Acronym for Protection, rest, Ice, NSAIDs, Compression and Elevation
  • PRICES: Acronym for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Support
  • PRICE: Mnemonic for Pulse, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • PRICE: Acronym for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
  • HI-RICE: Acronym for Hydration, Ibuprofen, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
  • POLICE: Acronym for Protection, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression and Elevation.


Things you will find in this article

  • Meaning of RICE
  • How to apply RICE
  • Variation to RICE

About the author 

Mr David

Thomas David is a Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian (RD), Health and fitness writer and editor based in Boca Raton, Florida. Thomas is also an international member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the US.

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