Home Health & Wellness Reevaluating RICE  – Naturopathic Physician Information and Evaluation

Reevaluating RICE  – Naturopathic Physician Information and Evaluation

Reevaluating RICE  – Naturopathic Physician Information and Evaluation


The Chilly Reality About Ice & Irritation 


The usage of ice for acute musculoskeletal accidents has been in style for many years since Gabe Mirkin, MD coined the RICE (relaxation, ice, compression, elevation) protocol in 1978 in his best-selling The Sports activities Drugs Ebook.1 For many years, this protocol has been totally indoctrinated into the healthcare system, regardless of an absence of ample analysis to help its efficacy. Lately, well being practitioners have began questioning the RICE protocol. Latest analysis signifies that utilizing ice for acute harm could delay therapeutic and end in additional tissue harm.1,2 To know the professionals and cons of ice for acute harm, we should first perceive irritation and its impact on tissue therapeutic. 

Evaluation of Harm Inflammatory Cascade 

If you injure your self, you provoke a posh inflammatory cascade. Whereas irritation results in ache and different basic indicators of discomfort with harm, together with swelling, warmth, and redness, it additionally performs a vital function in tissue therapeutic and restoration.3 Irritation is a protecting response pushed by particular immune and inflammatory cells that assist restore purposeful and structural integrity after harm.3 Since irritation is a obligatory a part of the therapeutic course of, something that reduces irritation additionally delays therapeutic.1,2 

Shortly after harm, the restore course of begins. There are three3 major phases in acute harm restore. The primary is the irritation section, characterised by the preliminary inflammatory response that begins instantly after harm.4 Neutrophils are the primary inflammatory cell mediators to reach, which launch a lot of pro-inflammatory molecules equivalent to cytokines, chemokines, and progress elements.4 This creates a “chemoattractive” surroundings for different inflammatory cells equivalent to monocytes and macrophages, drawing them to the harm website.3,4 That is the section throughout which the affected person will usually expertise most swelling and ache. 

The subsequent section is the regeneration section, which happens roughly 4-5 days after harm however can final for as much as 4 weeks.4 It is a multistep course of, first requiring the activation and proliferation of satellite tv for pc cells, the first stem cells in grownup skeletal muscle.4,5 These satellite tv for pc cells generate myoblasts, which might differentiate into new muscle fibers to assist restore the harm.4 

The third section is the reworking section. Along with myoblasts growing into myofibers, connective tissue transforming and fibrosis are necessary components of this third section. Within the early phases of reworking, this fibrotic response can assist with tissue stabilization, though extra progress could result in elevated scar tissue.4 The ultimate phases of reworking are revascularization and innervation. Restoration of blood provide to the injured tissue is crucial for its therapeutic, as blood vessels rupture throughout harm, inducing native hypoxia.4,6 Vascular endothelial progress issue (VEGF) is a main angiogenic issue launched on the trauma website that promotes the expansion of recent blood vessels.4 Tissue therapeutic is full when myofibers turn into innervated by motor neurons, usually occurring 2-3 weeks after harm.4 

Cryotherapy in Acute Harm Restore 

So, the place on this therapeutic cascade may ice have an effect? On the preliminary stage of harm, direct utility of ice to the world could cut back ache and swelling.1,2 It does this primarily by performing as a vasoconstrictor, inhibiting the transport of inflammatory molecules to the injured website, and prolonging the clearance of necrotic tissue by macrophages.1,2,6 This results in a delay within the therapeutic and restoration course of. A research carried out in rats recognized a correlation between icing and a slight delay in angiogenesis and a lower in vessel quantity, as ice delayed the proliferation of satellite tv for pc cells, delaying the expression of VEGF.6 

The Downsides of Relaxation 

As may be seen, standard ice remedy will not be as useful as initially steered. However this isn’t the one place this authentic RICE acronym falls quick. After ice, the largest pitfall of this authentic protocol is relaxation. Whereas immobilizing the injured space will assist defend in opposition to additional harm and will stop harm to the newly growing fibrin bond, it additionally slows the restoration course of.1,7 The lymphatic system is accountable for clearing out waste merchandise from our physique. Nevertheless, to flow into, it requires the contraction of muscle groups within the surrounding tissue.1 Lack of motion will inhibit lymphatic move, reducing the elimination of waste merchandise, and delaying the therapeutic course of. The motion additionally enhances blood move, permitting the inflow of inflammatory mediators to the broken space. Not solely is motion impacting section considered one of acute harm restore, however it additionally influences the restore section (section two). Research have proven that VEGF is upregulated within the human skeletal muscle with dynamic train.1 We will infer from that data that contraction of the skeletal muscle groups surrounding the injured website will improve angiogenesis.1 A ultimate consequence of inactivity is the potential of muscle atrophy, which might result in muscle groups which are weaker and extra vulnerable to harm.1 

Reexamining Compression & Elevation 

How do compression and elevation rise up? The objective of compression is to cease any bleeding and cut back edema by compressing the broken capillaries. Nevertheless, as soon as once more, information to help that is restricted.7 A number of research have tried to measure outcomes from numerous compression units and bandages; nonetheless, no uniform suggestions might be made concerning the compression kind, stage, or period.1,7 There’s additionally the chance of making use of extra strain, which may cut back circulation, resulting in among the adverse penalties beforehand talked about. Elevation could be the most acceptable of all of the suggestions within the RICE protocol, however once more, proof is proscribed. Elevating an injured limb will cut back edema by rising venous return.1,7 It’s usually nicely tolerated by sufferers and has minimal adverse penalties. 

Rising Strategies for Addressing Acute Harm 

There’s inadequate proof to help the RICE methodology in acute musculoskeletal harm, so what options do we now have? A number of new acronyms have been proposed, together with PRICE (safety, relaxation, ice, compression, elevation) and MEAT (motion, train, analgesia, remedy). The acronym and protocol gaining probably the most consideration is METH (motion, elevation, traction, warmth). Allow us to look at what the analysis says about this newly proposed protocol. 

As beforehand talked about, motion is necessary for the elimination of waste merchandise by lymph in addition to the upregulation of VEGF.1 Whereas injured sufferers shouldn’t use the injured space to its full capability, shifting it by means of a variety of movement that’s ache free will present the advantages of motion with out inflicting elevated tissue harm. On this new METH protocol, warmth is proposed over ice. There are a number of advantages of warmth remedy in acute musculoskeletal harm. The primary is elevated blood move attributable to vasodilation which will increase the provision of oxygen and vitamins to the harm website.8 Native tissue metabolism can also be improved by warmth which might cut back therapeutic time.8 Warmth can even enhance the elasticity of connective tissue, which can enhance the vary of movement.8 Traction is the opposite different steered, which is like motion. Traction includes gently and passively separating two articulating segments in a perpendicular aircraft to assist restore regular motion to a joint.9 Elevation is the one remedy that persists between the RICE and METH protocols. 

After a long time of utilizing the RICE protocol with out supporting proof, it could be time to contemplate switching to an alternate protocol for ache administration. METH will not be the ultimate phrase in harm remedy, and ice can nonetheless be helpful in sure circumstances, however well being practitioners should supply remedies which are supported by analysis. 


  1. Scialoia D, Swartzendruber A. The R.I.C.E. Protocol is a MYTH: A Evaluation and Suggestions. The Sport Journal. https://thesportjournal.org/article/the-r-i-c-e-protocol-is-a-myth-a-review-and-recommendations/. Printed 2022. Accessed June 18, 2022. 
  1. Wang Z, Ni G. Is it time to place conventional chilly remedy in rehabilitation of soft-tissue accidents out to pasture? World J Clin Instances. 2021;9(17):4116-4122. 
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  1. Laumonier T, Menetrey J. Muscle accidents and methods for bettering their restore. J Exp Orthop. 2016;3(1). 
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  1. Singh D, Barani Lonbani Z, Woodruff M, et al. Results of Topical Icing on Irritation, Angiogenesis, Revascularization, and Myofiber Regeneration in Skeletal Muscle Following Contusion Harm. Entrance Physiol. 2017;8. 
  1. van den Bekerom M, Struijs P, Blankevoort L, et al. What Is the Proof for Relaxation, Ice, Compression, and Elevation Remedy within the Therapy of Ankle Sprains in Adults? J Athl Practice. 2012;47(4):435-443. 
  1. Malanga G, Yan N, Stark J. Mechanisms and efficacy of warmth and chilly therapies for musculoskeletal harm. Postgrad Med. 2014;127(1):57-65. 
  1. Prentice WE. Joint Mobilization and Traction Methods in Rehabilitation. In: Hoogenboom BJ, Voight ML, Prentice WE. eds. Musculoskeletal Interventions: Methods for Therapeutic Train, Third Version. McGraw Hill; 2013. 

Sierra Goncharoff, ND, obtained her naturopathic doctorate on the Nationwide College of Pure Drugs, the place she then accomplished two years of residency. Following residency, she joined a non-public apply in Sandy, OR, simply outdoors of Portland. Her apply supplies main care and household drugs, and whereas she treats a variety of circumstances, a few of her particular pursuits embody ache administration, gastrointestinal well being, ladies’s well being, and pediatrics. Instagram @doctorgnd, Fb @Sierra Goncharoff. 



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