Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation (R.I.C.E.)

R.I.C.E. stands for "Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation", the standard treatment method used for sprains, strains, and severe bruises or contusions.  R.I.C.E. helps limit pain and swelling after an injury. It also helps injuries heal faster. 

Begin R.I.C.E. as soon as possible after an injury.  This method is an effective mode of treatment for the first 72 hours.



Pain is your body’s way of telling you to rest an injured area. 

  • No sports
  • Reduce regular exercise and activities
  • Avoid any activity that causes pain, swelling and discomfort
  • Use crutches until you can walk without a limp.


Cold reduces pain, swelling and inflammation in injured muscles, joints and ligaments.  

  • Apply ice and wrap it (for compression) around the injured area with a towel or elastic bandage for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Repeat every 2  to 3 hours during the day.
  • Applications can include: crushed ice in a wet towel or cloth, a bag of frozen vegetables, or a cold pack.


This may  reduce the swelling and provide support.

  • Wrap the injured area firmly with an elastic bandage or an appropriate splint. If a hand or foot tingles, becomes discoloured, or feels cold to the touch, the bandage may be too tight. Rewrap it more loosely.
  • If the bandage becomes too loose, rewrap it.
  • Do not wear an elastic bandage overnight.


Gravity helps reduce swelling by draining excess fluid. Keeping an injury area raised helps to reduce swelling, pain, and throbbing. It also speeds up healing.     
  • Elevate the injured area. If appropriate, rest injured area on a pillow.
Seek medical attention if you notice any of the following:

Seek medical attention if you notice any of the following:

  • Fingers or toes feel numb, are cold to the touch, or change colour
  • Skin looks shiny or tight 
  • Pain, swelling, or bruising worsens and does not improve with elevation 

Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: August 2013, January 2016


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