Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who coined the popular term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) in his book Sports Medicine, 1978 has changed his mind and retracted that RICE is the best treatment for injuries. “Nobody believes in rest anymore,” he says. “You can get a hip replacement and you’re on the bike 12 hours after surgery.” As for ice, “there is no data to show that ice does anything more than block pain,” he says. “And there is data that shows it delays healing.” The mnemonic he made famous, however, remains prevalent. “RICE is just something that stuck—and it’s wrong,” Mirkin adds. “I’m partially responsible for this misinformation.”
Inflammation is not always a negative thing, in fact it is a necessary bodily response that initiates the natural healing response. Using heat on an injury encourages this process, using ice suppresses it. Heat creates better circulation which brings more oxygen, nutrients, and blood to the area which makes the repair process more efficient.
For stubborn patients that just can't let go of the old way, I tell them to use ice if they must, but for no longer than 10 mins after the initial injury. The new way is Movement, Elevation, Traction, and Heat. It also has an acronym: METH. While perhaps not the best acronym to use, it is memorable for sure. In any case, keep RICE on the dinner plates and ICE away from your injuries!
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