When it comes to muscle sprains or strains, the treatment plan most often recommended is referred to as the "RICE" treatment. The acronym refers to the sequence of the treatments. In addition to rest, you'll treat the injury with applications of ice, some compression and frequent elevation. If you are struggling with a mild strain or sprain, there's a good chance that your doctor or walk in clinic will recommend this type of treatment to help you recover. Here's a look at the basics so you know what to expect.
Resting the Injury
Particularly in the first couple of days after an injury, rest is vital to the injured area. The more you try to use the injured muscle, the greater your risk of further damage. Taking a couple of days to rest the injury will give you some time for the muscle to start recovering, making general mobility easier when you do return to your normal routine.
After a couple of days of rest, gradually start to increase your activity levels with the injured muscle. Don't push yourself, because you may cause more injury. You may find that a splint or a pair of crutches can help ease some of the demand on the injured area as you start working your way back to your regular routine.
During those first few days of rest after the injury, the muscle is likely to be inflamed and sore. Applying ice for a few minutes several times each day during your rest period will help keep the inflammation down and make you more comfortable.
By wrapping the injured area with a bandage, you'll apply compression that can help regulate blood flow to the damaged tissue. This compression helps to keep the inflammation down, and can provide some support to the injured muscle. Just make sure your wrap isn't too tight – if you're feeling numbness, cold or tingling, loosen it up.
Elevating the Limb
Elevation is another great way to keep inflammation at bay and encourage healing. By elevating the limb, you'll keep the damaged tissue above the level of your heart. This helps to regulate the amount of blood flow to that tissue, which slows the inflammation. You may want to use a couple of pillows or something similar to help keep the limb elevated as much as possible.
This is the basic treatment method for most minor strains or muscle sprains. If your injury is more significant, it may require more intensive treatment. If this type of care doesn't result in a noticeable difference after a few days or if the pain is getting worse, it's important to visit a walk-in clinic like West Ocean City Injury & Illness Center or call your doctor right away.