Bandaged knee resting on a pillow with an ice pack.
Rest an injury, elevate it, and use ice and compression as directed.

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These can limit pain and swelling after an injury. RICE may be recommended to help treat breaks (fractures), sprains, strains, and bruises or bumps. 

Home care

Here are the details of RICE:

  • Rest. Limit the use of the injured body part. This helps prevent further damage to the body part and gives it time to heal. In some cases, you may need a sling, brace, splint, or cast to help keep the body part still until it has healed.

  • Ice. Applying ice right after an injury helps relieve pain and swelling. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Then place it over the injured area. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes every 3 to 4 hours. Continue for the next 1 to 3 days or until your symptoms improve. Never put ice directly on your skin. Don't ice an area longer than 15 minutes at a time.

  • Compression. Putting pressure on an injury helps reduce swelling and provides support. Wrap the injured area firmly with an elastic bandage or wrap. Make sure not to wrap the bandage too tightly or you will cut off blood flow to the injured area. If your bandage loosens, rewrap it.

  • Elevation. Keeping an injury raised or elevated above the level of your heart reduces swelling, pain, and throbbing. For instance, if you have a broken leg, it may help to rest your leg on several pillows when sitting or lying down. Try to keep the injured area elevated as often as possible.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

  • Increased pain or swelling in the injured body part

  • Injured body part becomes cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • Signs of infection. These include warmth in the skin, redness, drainage, or bad smell coming from the injured body part.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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