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The RICE Method + Acute Pain

Soccer player laying on ground and holding shin

The RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Most people have heard of it, some disagree with it and others swear by it. Like most things, it has to be done right to be effective. In the past few years, there has been a lot of controversy about whether the RICE method is really what we should be doing. CORE Physical Therapy would like to give you a little insight into just what you should do when it comes to the RICE method for acute pain and injuries and what to do when you have chronic pain. First, we will talk about the RICE method for acute pain:


Resting an injury is a very important step after you are injured, but too much rest can actually cause more issues. Timing is everything when it comes to post-injury care. We recommend resting for a couple of days and then working your way back up to regain strength.


Applying something cold, such as an ice pack or even a bag of frozen peas, to an injury will help reduce pain and swelling. You want to be sure to apply this soon after the injury and a few times each day until the swelling goes down. Keeping the ice on for a maximum of 20 minutes is recommended. Once the swelling goes down, you can apply heat to the area with pain. It is very important to always have a towel or something between the ice/heat and your skin.


Keeping the injury compressed also helps with swelling. Keeping the compression not too tight, but also not too loose, is key. Too tight of compression could cause a throbbing feeling – if this occurs, simply rewrap the compression to be looser. If the pain and swelling doesn’t go down within 48 hours, see a doctor as soon as possible to prevent further injury.


When elevating the injury, you want to keep it placed above heart level. This allows better blood flow and drainage back to the heart. Using pillows or propping a limb on the couch while laying on the floor would be good choices when elevating an injury.

When it comes to acute pain, this RICE method is great to use. It is important to promptly schedule a visit with a physical therapist to ensure proper healing. If your pain or injury is larger and more chronic, we suggest you do the opposite. It is important to move more in ways that don’t exacerbate symptoms. It is our job to help with these issues. In doing so, we will provide you with proper pain science information to help you understand exactly what is going on, why it is happening and how to manage it. We customize your physical therapy plan to make certain you are getting the right treatment for your injury or pain.

If you have pain or an injury, acute or chronic, it is important to contact your physical therapist. CORE Physical Therapy has the resources and therapists you need to treat all of your concerns. Contact us today for guidance and a plan to get you feeling like yourself again

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