Soft tissue injuries are extremely common in sport, and include muscles, ligaments, bones and blood vessels. Whilst none of us have X-ray vision, soft issue injuries usually appear swollen, red/warm and sensitive to touch.
R.I.C.E.R is used as first aid for soft tissue injuries because it minimises pain, helps to engage healing processes and encourages the access to a health professional to assess the injury and its extent. Whether it’s a twisted ankle, pulled hamstring or a nasty cork, R.I.C.E.R is the safest start to preventing further damage and to begin the healing process safely.
Here’s what it all means, if you don’t know already:
Rest – Stop the person moving and encourage them to sit or lie in their most comfortable position. If they are in danger, carefully move them, minimising impact on the injured area (and preventing an injury of your own!)
Ice – Use an ice pack (over a cloth, sock or paper towel – never straight against skin) to minimise pain and swelling. This can be used intermittently for 20 minutes at a time every 1 – 2 hours as necessary, or as a professional recommends.
Compression – Firmly wrap a bandage around the injured area, avoid it being too tight as we still want circulation. It should cover enough of the joint/area to keep it fairly still and safe, ice can then be applied over the top of the bandage.
Elevation – The injured area/joint should be lifted to sit comfortably above the level of the person’s heart. A leg can be rested on a pillow/stool and an arm should be resting inside a sling. This helps to stop too much swelling occurring. Movement should also be limited.
Referral – Have the injury checked by a professional, especially if the pain is severe. This is important not only for assessment, but rehabilitation after the injury. Most soft tissue injuries can be healed within one to six weeks, however this can depend of the extent of the injury and the management necessary.
R.I.C.E.R can also be used whilst waiting for an ambulance or medical support to arrive. Use the person’s pain level to guide you, none of the steps above should cause more pain to an individual. Only do what is comfortable for them. As always, seeking advice from your local physiotherapist is recommended to fully assess the injury and to recommend an appropriate plan of action in regards to rehabilitation and management of the injury into the future if needed.
Our team are here for you
At Progressive Sports & Spinal Physiotherapy, our highly experienced team of physiotherapists have rehabilitated many patients successfully after sustaining a serious soft tissue injury. We offer the support and guidance you need to achieve your pre-injury status and to get on with life as soon as possible.
If you would like further information about our customised rehabilitation options for sporting injuries, please feel free to contact the clinic today by calling (02) 4721 7798 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also click here to book an initial consultation.