RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and elevation as four back pain and joint pain treatments designed to prevent against further injury and to decrease the amount of inflammation around painful joints.

One of the most common treatments for back pain as well as other joint injuries, is RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. RISE is considered a good course of treatment involving acute pain injuries and strain. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are more likely to benefit patients with acute back pain vs. chronic back pain. These treatments may be done with products available in the home or ones that are readily available, such as a sports authority store or pharmacy. RICE is the most common initial treatment for soft tissue injuries, such as tendinitis, ligament sprains, strains, and some of the most common causes of back pain. This course of therapy is considered appropriate for short term use. For long term-use, patients are more likely to benefit from therapies involving movement and exercise, rather than the long periods of immobility involved with the rest, compression, and elevation treatments. Here are a few reasons why this course of therapy can do more harm than good.



The purpose of RICE is to reduce or eliminate inflammation and to rest the affected muscles and soft tissues to allow them to have a chance to heal themselves. But some studies that take a careful look at how the musculoskeletal system really works suggest that is the lack of muscle strength and exercise of muscles that cause soft tissue injuries in the first place. Also, one must consider the fact that the inflammatory process, initiated by the body, is not always your enemy, and is often involved in protecting and healing your affected joints, not harming them. Everything that happens in our body happens for a reason, and the process of inflammation involves an increase in the supply of blood and oxygen to the damaged tissues of the body to promote the healing process.

Some people may benefit from rest or icing their injured or painful joints, and some people may actually delay prevent their joints from recovering fully as a result of these therapies. Patients who have muscle spasms where muscle strain is the cause of pain may use ice, rest, compression, and elevation to sooth their achy muscles and prevent inflammation. People with minor injuries that don't involve major damage of the surrounding connective tissues and soft tissues may also use RICE therapies and anti-inflammatories, without getting in the way of the healing process. But RICE treatments could possibly prevent the healing of soft tissue injuries such as ligament, tendon, and cartilage injuries. Remember that the bones and muscles of the body have an exceptional capacity for healing themselves, due to the fact that their tissues are very vascular (well supplied with blood vessels). On the other hand, the soft tissues of the body are poorly supplied with oxygen, so the healing process may take much longer - if ever. A joint depends on the flow of blood into and around them to deliver the nutrients they need to heal. All 4 of the RICE techniques restrict blood flow to these tissues that are already largely avascular. Continued use of these treatments, when soft tissue injury is involved, prevent the joint tissues from healing fully, making the likelihood of the person developing chronic pain, greater. The success of treatments such as massage therapy and prolotherapy are two indicators that increased blood flow to injured tissues is one of the key components of the healing process.