Take the word rice. What does it conjure up in your mind? Images of vibrantly green rice paddies in the Far East? Maybe a healthy dinner of whole grain brown rice topped with some steamed veggies? Some Mexican rice and beans?
There’s no question that rice is a staple all over the world. In the U.S., we’re likely to eat rice as a side dish; but rice in many other cultures forms the basis of almost every meal. In medical “culture,” RICE is a staple, too – but you’ve got to appreciate the capital letters.
RICE, when capitalized, is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s a method of treatment that’s recognized by athletic trainers and doctors like Kenneth R. Wilhelm, DPM of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center as the “food” of choice to reduce swelling in sports injuries and ankle sprains.
When to apply RICE
When you’ve twisted your ankle and it begins to bruise and swell, try using RICE at home:
“R” stands for Rest. Stop whatever activity you’re doing, in order to protect your ankle from further injury. Avoid any movement at all that causes pain.
“I” stands for Ice. Apply cold to the injury as soon as possible, which will help to minimize any swelling. Use a towel or other cloth barrier between an ice pack and your skin so that your skin is protected from cold injury. We generally recommend applying ice several times per day for about 15 minutes at a time.
“C” stands for Compression. To reduce swelling, wrap the injury with a bandage, snugly but not tightly. If your feet feel numb or tingly, that means blood isn’t getting down there so loosen the bandage.
“E” stands for Elevation. Prop your injured ankle up higher than your heart. Again, this serves to ease any swelling.
RICE isn’t always a food, and it’s not always the answer, either
If you apply RICE treatment to an injury right away and it doesn’t feel better after a few days, you may have suffered a worse injury than you thought. Make an appointment for an exam with Dr. Wilhelm at our office in Centreville, Virginia. X-rays or other imaging may be necessary to see the extent of the damage. Get prompt, expert attention by calling us at (703) 996-3000.