Immediate injury treatment

The most important time in the treatment of acute soft tissue injuries is in the 24 hours immediately following injury. When soft tissue is injured, blood vessels are usually damaged too. Thus, blood accumulates around damaged tissue and compresses adjoining tissues, which causes secondary hypoxic injury and further tissue damage. Consequently, every effort should be made to reduce bleeding at the site of injury. The most appropriate method of doing this is summarised by RICE.

If you have suffered an acute injury such as a muscle strain, stop activity/sport and use the R.I.C.E method of treatment. R.I.C.E stands or rest, ice, compression and elevation.

  • Rest- prevent further injury and allow healing
  • Ice- reduces swelling, constricts blood vessels, and limits the bleeding in the injured area.
  • Compression- further limits swelling, supports the injured joint.
  • Elevation- by elevating the injured joint this reduces swelling.


Whenever possible following injury, you should ease activity to decrease bleeding and swelling. Such as with a thigh contusion, bleeding will be increased by contraction of the quadriceps muscle during running. When necessary complete rest can be achieved through the use of crutches for a lower limb injury or a sling for an upper limb injury.


Immediately after injury, ice is principally used to reduce tissue metabolism. Ice is also used in the later stages of injury treatment as a therapeutic modality. 10 minute ice treatments are most effective every 1-2 hours and then gradually reduce the application over the next 24 hours.


Compression of the injured area with a firm bandage reduces bleeding and therefore minimizes swelling. Compression should be applied both during and after ice application. The bandage should be applied firmly but not too tightly as to cause pain. Bandaging should start just distal to the site of bleeding with each layer of the bandage overlapping the underlying layer.


Elevation of the injured part decreases hydrostatic pressure and thus reduces the accumulation of interstitial fluid. Elevation can be achieved by using a sling for upper limb injuries and by resting lower limb injuries on a chair or pillow. It is important to ensure the lower limb is above the level of the pelvis.

To discuss your sport/exercise regime and how treatment at Bespoke Injury Management can help you, contact Donna via her contact page.

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