Ice therapy for soft tissue injury (Dr.I.C.E.)
This should be applied for the first 24 to 48 hours after injury, although ice can also be beneficial in the later stages of treatment.
D is for diagnosis. It is important to get a correct diagnosis for treatment to be successful. If similar or related injuries are missed (for example an avulsion sprain where the bone is pulled away from the bone by the ligament.
R is for Rest - This slows down any bleeding and reduces the risk of further damage.
I is for Ice - This can ease the pain, reduce swelling, reduce bleeding (initially) and encourage blood flow (later).
C is for compression - This reduces bleeding and reduces swelling.
E is for Elevation - Uses gravity to reduce bleeding and reduces swelling by allowing fluids to flow away from the site of injury.
How can I apply ice?
Ice can be applied in a number of ways.
It should never be applied directly to the skin but in a wet tea towel to prevent ice burns.
Apply the ice for about 15 minutes every 2 hours. This will vary depending on the size of the area and depth of the tissue. This can be reduced gradually over the next 24 hours.
If you have a bad circulation condition in a specific area then you should not apply ice to that area, or if you have a cold allergy.
What about cold therapy gels?
Cold therapy gels can play a part in treatment and rehabilitation but should not be used as a substitute for proper cold therapy and compression. They will draw heat out over a longer period of time and are convenient to apply throughout the day reducing pain and inflammation but cannot remove large amounts of heat from the body in the way ice or other cold therapy products can.
In the first 24 hours you should not :
Apply a heat rub
Have a deep massage.