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Illustration of a foot wrapped in bandage. R.I.C.E.

R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Doing these things helps limit pain and swelling after an injury. R.I.C.E. also helps injuries heal faster. Use R.I.C.E. for sprains, strains, and severe bruises or bumps. Follow the tips on this handout and begin R.I.C.E. as soon as possible after an injury.

Image of foot  Rest

Pain is your body’s way of telling you to rest an injured area. Whether you have hurt an elbow, hand, foot, or knee, limiting its use will prevent further injury and help you heal.

Image  Ice

Applying ice right after an injury helps prevent swelling and reduce pain. Don’t place ice directly on your skin.

  • Wrap a cold pack or bag of ice in a thin cloth. Place it over the injured area.

  • Ice for 10 minutes every 3 hours. Don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Image  Compression

Putting pressure (compression) on an injury helps prevent swelling and provides support.

  • Wrap the injured area firmly with an elastic bandage. If your hand or foot tingles, becomes discolored, or feels cold to the touch, the bandage may be too tight. Rewrap it more loosely.

  • If your bandage becomes too loose, rewrap it.

  • Do not wear an elastic bandage overnight.

Image  Elevation Cartoon illustration of young woman on couch with foot elevated and ice pack on her ankle.

Keeping an injury elevated helps reduce swelling, pain, and throbbing. Elevation is most effective when the injury is kept elevated higher than the heart.

 

Call your health care provider if you notice any of the following:

  • Fingers or toes feel numb, are cold to the touch, or change color

  • Skin looks shiny or tight

  • Pain, swelling, or bruising worsens and is not improved with elevation

 

 
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