February 01, 2017
Let's Talk about RICE

RICE (aka PRICE) is not a food

Rice stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Exercise, and is often preceded by the letter P, which stands for Protection.  It represents the steps, in order, for treating sprains and strains.

Strains vs. Sprains

All our joints are held together by two very tough tissues.  The first one is called a ligament.  These are bands made of fiber that connect your bones to each other so that you don't fall apart when your muscles relax.

The other is called a tendon, equally tough but in the form of a fibrous cord that connects your muscles to your bones.

Many people don't know the difference between a strain and a sprain.  Let's clear up that little mystery so that we're all on the same page.  Often these occur in knees, elbows, and ankles, but let's look at the much simpler finger joints.

You might be surprised to learn that we don't actually have any muscles in our fingers.  We just have fairly long tendons that go the length of our fingers and connect to muscles further back in our forearms called Extensors and Flexors.

As you can see in the image, ligaments stabilize the joint so that the tips of our fingers don't bend left and right—only up and down.  Ligaments don't normally stretch, and connect only to bone.

Tendons, on the other hand, connect a bone on one end and muscle on the other.  When the muscle contracts it can pull on the non-stretchy tendon and make the joint flex.

You can imagine that if you bent the tip of your finger left or right it would be very painful.  The ligament is not very elastic so it would stretch or tear. This is called a sprain.

If you were to bend your finger backwards you would stretch or tear either the muscle or the tendon.  This is called a strain.

What actually happens?

In either type of injury, there is significant pain.  This damage causes deep bleeding which manifests as a bruise and swelling.  The body is quite adept at repairing itself, and rushes healing blood to the scene which causes additional swelling.

Typically there an estimated 25,000 sprains per day in this country, with the majority of them being ankles.  Ankles are particularly susceptible to swelling because they are at the bottom of the body where it is the most difficult for the heart to move blood.

Depending on the amount of damage, sometimes you can still walk on the joint, but generally not be able to continue the activity which caused the injury.  This is where RICE comes into the picture.

RESTing the injury does not always mean not moving. The best rest is to make sure you are supporting the joint allowing the injury to rest while during activity. Accommodated activity post injury can actually lead to better recovery.  Swelling can make it painful, so ICE the joint to keep excessive swelling at bay.  Once it reduces in size, COMPRESS the joint so it doesn't refill with excess blood, and finally, ELEVATE the joint so the heart can circulate blood and nutrients more efficiently to maximize the healing rate.

How do we treat it?

Getting back to the activity you love, whether it's sport, or simply being mobile and able to deal with your daily obligations, is essential.  The doctor-recommended kit from Pains and Strains is a giant step in the right direction.

Rest gives the injury a chance to heal, but cooling it and compressing it allows for much faster natural repair, so the kit includes the famous Freeze Sleeve™.  The Freeze Sleeve is stored in your freezer until needed and is composed of a high-tech polymer that provides the exact right temperature for best effect, while its elastic characteristics provide exactly the right amount of compression and additional support. 

Long lasting and flexible, it allows the full range of motion so you can wear it while completing your daily activities.  And the cold lasts the precise doctor-recommended amount of time to garner the best effect.

For daily tasks, the knee kit is equipped with an elastomeric brace to support the injured joint and keep it in the proper alignment.  You can get back to your regular activities much more quickly and with a greater degree of comfort and safety.

The kit also contains a topical analgesic spray to help you deal with residual pain during the healing process, as well as exercise bands ranging from light-effort through to extra-heavy-effort.  The stretchy bands help you to rebuild the strength of the joint to prevent future injury.

The Takeaway

Failing to deal with an injury in a timely manner can result in a lifelong disability.  Check with your physician or orthopedic surgeon and you'll find that they recommend the same therapies in the Pains and Strains Care Kit to speed you on your way to a quick recovery.

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We would love to hear from you, and get you on the road to recovery!

Joe McClung

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