When it comes to treating acute sprains the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) method is the most commonly repeated course of action, but what if I told you there has been a differing school of thought on this subject?
MEAT (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics, and Treatment) has been the buzz word in the sports therapy and physical therapy industry for a few years now.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation therapy is an accessible and popular modality in the treatment of acute ankle sprains. Therefore, the objective of our study was to analyze the effectiveness of applying RICE therapy begun within 72 hours after trauma for patients in the initial period of ankle sprain. The specific null hypotheses included the following: (1) No differences existed in outcome measurements between using rest, immobilization, or no movement or mobilization and using early mobilization or movement for acute treatment of ankle sprains; (2) No differences existed in outcome measurements between using ice, cold, cold therapy, cryotherapy, or cooling and using no ice, no cold, or heat for acute treatment of ankle sprains; (3) No differences existed in outcome measurements between using compression and using no compression for acute treatment of ankle sprains; and (4) No differences existed in outcome measurements between using elevation and using no elevation for acute treatment of ankle sprains.
In their published study, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia found:
- Mobilization increases blood flow and so reduces muscle atrophy, disuse osteoporosis, adhesions, and joint stiffness.
- Early mobilization seems to decrease pain, swelling, and stiffness, and patients generally prefer it to immobilization.
- Early mobilization results in earlier return to work, a greater range of motion, and fewer complications and residual symptoms. They concluded: “The best evidence at hand suggests the medical profession generally errs too conservatively on the side of immobilization.”
As time and knowledge progress we have learned that many of the old methods of treatments such as putting an arm in a sling have been counter productive to healing and even potentially cause more damage in the long term such as frozen shoulder syndrome.