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Athletic Training

Tips for Treatment of Athletic Injuries

For active people, participating in exercise or athletic events can often result in minor musculoskeletal injuries. The following is a list of things which should be done soon after an injury occurs. The guidelines are based on the acronym R.I.C.E., which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Rest - Rest is very important for allowing musculoskeletal injuries to heal. Immobilization of an injury allows the body's healing processes to occur without complication. This will help to ensure the most efficient recovery period.

Ice - Cold, primarily ice in different forms, is an excellent first aid agent. It helps to reduce swelling, decrease pain, and ease muscle spasm. Ice should be applied for approximately 20 minutes every hour or hour and a half following an injury. This protocol should be followed for 2-3 days or until pain and swelling subsides.

Compression - Compression is another effective tool for treatment of new injuries. Elastic wraps and tapes provide uniform compression to injured areas, helping to minimize inflammation. Compression should be maintained throughout the day, with intermittent cold applications.

Elevation - Elevation can also aid the healing process by reducing swelling and increasing venous return of injured cells. The injured area should be elevated above the level of the heart, especially during ice and compression applications.

Many injuries that, at first, seem too minor can sometimes become more involved. If pain, swelling and other symptoms are not improving, it is important to consult your physician. Any injury which results in severe pain, deformity, or joint instability should be examined immediately by a health care professional.

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Last Reviewed: Apr 23, 2010

Robert W Sweeney, MS, ATC Robert W Sweeney, MS, ATC
Athletic Trainer
Clnical Instructor
The School of Allied Medical Proffesions
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University