What is P.R.I.C.E?
I’ve given the game away already with the above graphic but let me explain a little further. R.I.C.E or P.R.I.C.E or even P.R.I.C.E.R (my personal preference) are often issued as instructions by doctors, nurses, therapists and medical professionals in the event of an injury.
But what are they actually for?
We all have lives but giving an injury the best chance of recovery involves giving the body time to repair. This means rest. You might need to use the injured limb but try to use it as little as possible and if you can do nothing! However doing nothing for prolonged periods of time can also hinder your rehabilitation so whilst a day or two of rest is good, some use of the joint or muscle may also be necessary. (speak to your therapist or medical practitioner for specifics of your injury)
This does a few things. It helps reduce swelling, it forces the body to work harder to push blood to the area which increases blood pressure which results in more good blood to the area and it offers support. You may want to alternate with icing and compression and take the compression off from time to time. Again you can do this as much as you like for the first 72 hours.
This is where I come in. Rehabilitation can take many forms but involves starting to use the muscle or joint again. We want to return it back to full mobility and strength as quickly as possible but without causing further damage, undoing the repair or limiting the range of motion or use with a build up of scar tissue.
We also want to ensure that you don’t get an injury elsewhere caused by this injury. This is referred to as villain and victim. The body adapts to allow for the damaged muscle and shifts weight or posture to a new position. This new position causes a new location to ache or hurt. The original problem is the villain the new location is the victim.
Soft tissue therapy can help by laying hands on the affected area and understanding where the damage is. I can advise you of the right lengthening exercises to do, for how long and how far you should stretch them. Massage will straighten muscle fibres and break down adhesions that lead to scar tissue. We will also do proprioceptive work which will reset your balance and stop you favouring other muscles.
This might be using a splint or sling or it could just be ensuring you keep the injury out of harms way and that includes from using it. Crutches or sticks could be considered a form of protection as well as soft boots and plaster casts.
Ice is good heat is bad. I’ll explain more about the heat later on but for now let’s talk about ice. Firstly wrap it in a tea towel or cloth, avoid direct contact with the skin to avoid cold burns. The ice shrinks the area which forces out fluid build up and reduces swelling. Once you allow the area to heat back up (at room temperature, remember the why heat is bad bit is coming) it floods the area with blood which is the key to repair.
You can repeat the icing and re-heating process as much as you like in the first 72 hours.
Similar to compression this is making the body work harder and thus getting more blood to the area. Also whilst you are elevating you are removing pressure from the joint or muscle and of course resting it!
I said I’d tell you why heat was bad so here goes.
We have talked about increasing blood flow but simply piling blood in with out reducing swelling just clogs up the whole area. Once the area is swollen it impacts on surrounding muscle tissue, reduces the amount of space around the injury and evenutally stops the flow of blood.
Alcohol thins the blood and reduces the coagulant properties you need to heal, it also reduces your perception of pain which may encourage you to use the injured area and cause further damage.
This might seem obvious and the use of running is to make the acronym work, really it should be E for exertion. Putting excesive force through the injured areas will prolong the injury and possibly make it worse.
What a soft tissue therapist saying NO to massage? In the first two to three days it can cause further damage depending on the injury however soft tissue is far more than massage, manipulation and movement of the joint as well as clearing around the area can help to speed recovery.
If you have very severe pain, signs of infection or suspect a broken bone, see medical assistance immediately. If you have a muscular or joint injury, contact me for a consultation and we will work out the best course of action for the speediest and safest recovery.