When To Use the RICE Protocol

When To Use the RICE Protocol

Have you ever heard of the RICE protocol? This common treatment strategy involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation. But when is it a good way to treat an injury, and how do you know if you should see a doctor instead?

Thomas F. Saylor, MD, offers numerous treatment strategies at Orthopaedic Care Specialists in North Palm Beach, Florida. In this blog, he shares when to use the RICE protocol and when it’s time to schedule an appointment with a specialist.

How the RICE method works

As we mentioned, RICE is a handy acronym that stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. For decades, this has been the go-to approach for treating soft tissue injuries, such as strains and sprains. In more detail, this treatment protocol involves the following:

The RICE protocol can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. However, this treatment is not sufficient for all types of injuries.

When to use the RICE method

If an injury involves the soft tissues, such as a sprain, strain, or bruise, and if it’s minor, it can likely be treated using the RICE method.


A sprain occurs if you overstretch or tear a ligament. Ligaments connect bones to other bones, and they help provide support and stability to the joints in your body. One of the most common areas to sprain is the ankle. Each day, approximately 25,000 Americans sustain an ankle sprain.


Strains describe injuries to muscles and/or the tendons, which connect muscles to bones. These injuries involve overstretching or tearing one or both of these soft tissues. Strains often impact the back or leg, especially the hamstrings.


A bruise, or contusion, develops when underlying muscle fibers and connective tissues get damaged, which causes blood to pool in the site.

Mild soft tissue injuries often respond favorably to the RICE protocol. However, each of these injuries can vary in severity and can require more advanced treatment.

When to see an expert

The RICE method can do wonders for minor soft tissue damage, but partial and complete tears, as well as injuries that involve broken bones, should be seen by an expert.

Generally speaking, it’s time to seek medical attention if you:

Similarly, if you’re unsure about the severity of your injury, you should schedule an appointment with an expert to ensure that you’re following the best protocol for optimal healing.

Do you have an injury? You don’t have to guess about your treatment options. Schedule a consultation at Orthopaedic Care Specialists by calling 561-260-5993 today.

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