Ask the Expert: The P.R.I.C.E. of Treating Injuries
For the immediate care of sprains and strains, St. Luke’s Therapy Plus
Physical Therapist and Certified Athletic Trainer Kris Sehr recommends the P.R.I.C.E. treatment. “These techniques serve to minimize the magnitude of the injury and allow healing to proceed more rapidly,” she says.
Protection: Avoid activities or motions that are painful to the injured joint. Avoid risking additional trauma to your muscle or joint.
Rest: Resting gives your body time to respond to the injury and avoid additional stress and damage to the muscle or joint. The length of rest will vary depending on the severity of the injury. If you continue activity with an acute injury, you risk increasing the severity of the injury, slowing the healing process and increasing your recovery time.
Ice: Applying cold within the first 72 hours after an injury can minimize some of your body’s inflammatory reactions and reduce tissue damage. Cold is used to slow bleeding and decrease muscle spasm, pain and swelling. You can use a cold pack, frozen damp bath towel, frozen bag of peas or popcorn (both conform well around joints), or immersion in very cold water. Apply cold for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow tissue to warm up to room temperature. Cold can be reapplied every two hours.
Compression: Compression helps reduce swelling and provides mild support. This usually consists of an elastic (ACE) wrap or taping. Ice can be applied under a compression wrap, or you can freeze a moistened ACE wrap.
Elevation: Elevation of an injured joint limits pooling of fluid in the injured tissue, helping to decrease swelling. To be most effective, the injured area should be above the level of your heart.
If your symptoms have not been relieved in two to three days, see your physician.
UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital has four Therapy Plus clinics
that provide outpatient physical and occupational therapy for work- or non-work-related injuries and sports injuries.