Common soft tissue injuries affect muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They can happen during exercise, while playing sports, or even in the course of normal daily activities. Soft tissue injuries can be the result of an accident or sudden trauma, or they may be because of overuse.
At Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates, our team of talented providers see many patients who have soft tissue injuries. We’ve discovered that many know about the RICE protocol, but they don’t always know when to use it. Here, we discuss the types of injuries you should use RICE to treat.
RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Here’s a quick review of each of those components:
If you hurt your ankle playing basketball, you need to rest your ankle. It seems pretty simple, but you may find yourself standing on the sidelines with your ankle still bearing weight.
Perhaps you turned too quickly at work and hurt your knee. You may be tempted to continue limping through your shift, but resting the knee is a better idea.
Apply a cold compress to your injury several times a day, for about 20 minutes each time. Be sure to place something between the ice pack and your skin!
Use an elastic bandage to ease swelling. You want to wrap the injured area snugly, but not too tight.
Propping your injury above your heart can help reduce swelling.
Types of injuries RICE helps
Often, RICE is discussed in the context of ankle injuries. When you sprain your ankle, you stretch or tear a ligament. Ligaments connect bones to bones and are important for stabilizing your joints.
In addition to ankles, knees and wrists are commonly sprained joints. Any joint that is sprained can benefit from RICE.
Strains happen when you injure a muscle or a tendon. Tendons connect muscles to bones, and, like ligaments can be stretched or torn. Strains also respond well to the RICE protocol.
Bruises, or contusions, may also benefit from RICE. Most of the time, contusions are mild, but if symptoms don’t resolve, you should seek medical treatment because it’s possible to have permanent tissue damage from a serious contusion.
Medical care and RICE
The RICE protocol is a good thing to do in the case of many soft tissue injuries, but it isn’t a replacement for proper medical care. Sprains may be mild to serious, and they can lead to lifelong instability problems without proper treatment.
Begin with RICE, but also make an appointment with a highly qualified medical provider for treatment. Like a sprain, a strain may be mild, or you may have a ruptured tendon that requires surgery.
If you have an injury and you aren’t sure if you need to follow the RICE protocol or get expert help, err on the side of caution, and make an appointment at Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates. We can evaluate your injury and suggest the most appropriate next steps so that you heal properly and get back to doing the things you enjoy.