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A guide to the ‘Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral’ technique

Sprains, strains and fractures can happen easily; try to reduce swelling; use Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral (RICER) to speed up recovery.
  • Injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures can happen easily. They often happen after accidents or falls, or during sport or other physical activities.

  • When an injury happens, some internal bleeding and swelling can develop in the injured area. Too much swelling can cause extra damage.

  • RICER is a first aid technique used in the first 48 hours after a sprain, strain or fracture. It can limit swelling and help speed up recovery.

 

R – Rest, I – Ice, C – Compression

Rest the injury; use an ice pack; apply a compression bandage, starting below the injury and finishing a hand's width above the site.
  • R – Rest
    After injury, stop your child taking part in any painful activity. Moving the injured part can increase bleeding and swelling, and slow down the healing process. Don’t  let your child keep playing.

  • I – Ice
    Use an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area. Apply ice for 15 minutes every two hours for 24 hours, then for 15 minutes every four hours for 24 hours.

  • C – Compression
    Bandage the area firmly (but not too tightly), starting just below the injured area and moving up. Overlap each layer by half. Finish bandaging about one hand’s width above the injured area.

 

E – Elevation, R – Referral

Keep the injury elevated and have it checked by a doctor; avoid heat or hot rubs, activity and massage.
  • E – Elevation
    Keep the injured area elevated. This limits blood flow and minimises swelling. Keep legs above your child’s hips by putting the leg on a chair, pillow or stool. Use a sling for arm injuries.

  • R – Referral
    Have the injury checked by a doctor. The doctor might request X-rays, ultrasounds or CT scans to help diagnose the injury and plan treatment.

  • In the first 48 hours after an injury, don’t use treatments such as heat or hot rubs. Also avoid moderate or intense activity, and massage.

 
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  • Last Updated 23-08-2011
  • Last Reviewed 19-08-2011

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