Short term treatment for sprains, strains, tears, pulls, and other muscle or joint injuries should focus on Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. R.I.C.E. treatment can relieve pain, limit/reduce swelling, and protect the injury from further aggravation, thereby speeding recovery. This treatment regimen should be followed for 24-48 hours following the initial injury. If pain or swelling does not decrease within 48 hours, seek the advice of a physician.
Rest: Resting immediately after an injury protects the affected region from further injury and provides your body with the energy necessary for healing itself.
Ice: The used of ice bags or cold packs can provide short-term pain relief and, more importantly, limits/reduces swelling by reducing blood flow to the affected area. Do not leave ice in place for longer than 15-20 minutes without a break, as extended exposure can result in skin damage. The rule of thumb is to alternate cold compresses for 15 minutes with 20 minute breaks.
Compression: Compression limits swelling and can provide minor pain relief. Compression is most easily achieved through wrapping the affect area with an ACE bandage. Be sure not to over-tighten the bandage when applying. If you feel throbbing or excessive pressure, loosen the bandage.
Elevation: Elevation of an injury reduces swelling. Elevation is most effective when the injury is kept above the level of the heart. In most cases, this can most easily be achieved by lying down and propping the injury up on pillows.