Ice is by far the most important element of R.I.C.E. treatment when you're injured. Ice therapy on the injured area is very effective in reducing swelling and pain. Apply ice as soon as possible after an injury.
How do apply cold therapy? Crushed ice in a plastic bag is usually the best. Blocks of ice, commercial cold packs, bags of frozen vegetables will do the same job. Just be careful not to apply ice directly to the skin to prevent ice burns or further skin damage. Wrapping the ice in a damp towel provides the best protection for the skin.
How long and how often? The opinions vary. The most common recommendation is to apply ice for 20 minutes for every two hours for the first 48 to 72 hours. This is just a general guideline. If you (particularly elderly people or children) have lower tolerance to cold, you can reduce the frequency to 5 to 10 minutes for every hour. People with circulatory problems are also more sensitive to ice. You should use your own judgment when applying ice. Twenty minutes could be too much for some people, while some other people can leave the ice on for up to an hour at a time.
One thing is to avoid is applying any form of heat on the injured area for the first 24 to 72 hours, including heat lamps, heat creams, spas, Jacuzzis and saunas. Avoid massaging the injured area. In addition, avoid alcohol consumption. These things will increase bleeding, swelling and pain of your injury.
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