MEAT instead of RICE or NSAIDs

Both RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) and NSAIDs medications are the two most common treatments for acute pain and chronic pain. These treatments don't require a physician prescription, and everything you need to use them will be available around the house or at the local pharmacy. There are three ideas behind these two types of treatments:
  1. Pain and the inflammation around the parts of the body we feel pain in are bad, and we should use the treatments available to us to minimize them.
  2. We either hurt or injured ourselves because of an injury, and limiting motion to these painful areas will prevent any further injury.
  3. In areas where our joints or other body sections have become injured and painful, the resting of these areas will held to stimulate the healing process.
Assuming these three ideas are correct, RICE and NSAIDs would both be effective means of preventing further injuries to joints and stimulating the healing process. Does the latest research support these ideas? For the most part, the available date does not support these ideas. The assumption that inflammation and swelling around joints is a bad thing is wrong. One of the results of the inflammatory process is an increase in blood flow around the joints or body parts that have been injured. This increase in blood flow stimulates and accelerates the healing process. NSAIDs and icing of painful and red areas actually have the effect of reducing inflammation in these areas, which could actually have the effect of delaying the healing process.

The ideas that restricting movement in painful areas gives them an opportunity to heal itself, and that using painful joints slows down the healing process, is also incorrect. Typically, doctors today recommend a short period of rest to try to resolve cases of acute pain, but to resume an active lifestyle within a few days or weeks. We should note that in cases of major injuries, where there are significant tears or instability of the joint, compression, immobilization, and elevation may be appropriate.

MEAT instead of RICE or NSAIDs: The MEAT treatment protocol stands for Movement, Exercise, Analgesic, and Treatment.

Movement: When you are in pain, your first instinct is to stop movement in that painful area or to prevent putting weight on it. This reaction to pain and injury may benefit you in some cases, and contribute to chronic pain in others. Just like the inflammatory process of tissues promotes blood flow to injured areas, so does exercise and physical therapy. Increased blood flow as a result of movement brings in the extra oxygen and nutrients needed for the injured soft tissues and parts of the body.

Exercise: We don't want to do anything that will cause more instability in your painful joint, but exercise is important. Exercise may increase blood flow to the joints, and also stimulate removal of toxins that have built up around joints as a result of the injury.

Analgesic: Not all NSAIDs and other analgesics have the dual effect of reducing inflammation and suppressing pain. The NSAID acetaminophen (Tylenol) helps to provide pain relief without causing the GI symptoms of other analgesics. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) does not affect inflammation.

Treatment: Your treatment for your acute pain or chronic pain may involve multiple types of treatment as well as more than one type of doctor.