Why does first aid for sprains/strains etc (Rest Ice Compress Elevate) focus on reducing swelling? Doesn’t swelling help with healing?

150 views

It’s my understanding that swelling is the body’s way of delivering healing “supplies” to the injured area. Why are we stopping that from occurring?

In: 96

11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your body will often over correct while sending those healing supplies to the affected area. With this over correction comes the potential for prolonged and/or excessive swelling, which can lead to long term damage on the muscles and tissue surrounding the joint.

Anonymous 0 Comments

you understood that correctly.

The author of the RICE (Rest Ice Compress Elevate) method has revoked the theory saying it doesn’t work and research has shown movement to be more effective for light injuries like you mention “walking it off”.

Edit: Article where the author of the method discusses research that shows his theory is wrong [https://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/why-ice-delays-recovery.html](https://www.drmirkin.com/fitness/why-ice-delays-recovery.html)

Squat University on youtube and instagram is a injury rehab expert (i forgot the english term for this) and has a number of videos on proper recovery you can find if you search for RICE or icing injuries on his channels

Anonymous 0 Comments

Follow up question: how much, if any, of the healing capacity/speed is reduced by reducing the swelling?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Why does this question get popular every week?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Swelling helps with healing in the sense that it encourages you to not use that region. If you’re aware it’s sprained then you no longer need that response. Also swelling can be dangerous in its own right. Better to just reduce it and any accompanying pain

Anonymous 0 Comments

Your body part is sick , it will be swollen and hurt because that’s the symptoms of the sickness.
We can reduce the symptoms with rest/ice/compression.
It’s like a sore throat that is swollen/sore/warm.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Inflammatory diets greatly excaserbate swelling in addition to the other helpful replies here.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The reason they do the RICE thing is to prevent compartment syndrome. If there is too much swelling, the blood circulation is cut off to the distal side of the injury, causing ischemia, and eventually necrosis if not corrected.

Anonymous 0 Comments

New studies are showing that icing injuries impedes the healing process so that is falling out of favor. I read a NY Times article about it not too long ago.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If the injury is severe enough, there is a desire to minimize swelling in order to be able to get a clear image of the damage (X-ray, MRI) quickly so that the best course of treatment can be determined. A lot of fluid makes it really hard to see what’s going on. Aside from that, ice is very helpful for reducing pain immediately after an injury, since swelling puts increased pressure on the nerves in the area. And even with RICE, there is still plenty of swelling. Our bodies really do overdo it, swelling can be so extreme in little joints like ankles that the body seems to be inflating like a balloon partially to make you recognize something is really wrong and that you should rest.

I was a trainer for almost a decade, and one thing you should NEVER do is ice a minor injury, and then jump back in a game. The cold reduces nerve feedback and tissue pliability, which increases the chance of new or further injury. We learned to gradually warm tissue back up if returning to activity, at least 20 minutes.