Top Tips for Managing New Injuries

Posted by SportsMed NQ, 23 January 2015


With the new year comes the start of the sporting season. This can mean new injuries for you and your family. What better time to refresh yourself on the RICER principles to help manage acute injuries. The RICER principle is well established as the best first aid for acute injuries including; muscle strains and tears, ligament sprains and ruptures, fractures, tendon injuries, dislocations and more. Acute injuries come with swelling which causes increased sensitivity of the nervous system to pain stimulus. Additionally, swelling can restrict joint movement and muscle contraction. Therefore it is important to control the swelling ASAP.

By using these 5 steps you can significantly reduce the welling and therefore the healing time, pain and long lasted effects of most acute musculoskeletal problems.

  1. Rest – after a new injury rest is very important. You need to give the body a chance to settle the inflammation and begin the healing process. Also you don’t want to risk furthering the injury you have already sustained and make it worse.
  2. ankleIce – ice causes constriction of the blood vessels in the body. Using ice for 20 minutes every hour is reported to be the most effective however any amount of ice will help. As a quick guide, if the area of injury is hot then ice will be effective (usually 3-5 days after the injury).
  3. Compressions – compression again helps with the swelling. Tubigrip is the best option for light compression. Keep the compression on all day but be careful that no wrinkles form as this can restrict blood flow (to check the blood flow look at the colour of the skin below the compression. If is it red it is too tight).
  4. Elevation – the swelling you get at the injury site is fluid that comes of out the tissue and blood. Elevating the limb above the level of your heart will help to drain it away from the area and reduce the volume of fluid around the injury.
  5. Referral – this step is the most important. After an injury you should have it check by a physiotherapist. They can diagnose your injury, provide treatment, help you return to sport and identify if there is a need for surgical or other interventions. The longer you leave this the longer the healing takes.


If you have any questions about RICER or have a recent injury yourself, call us and get advice on what you should do and whether or not you should seek treatment from a physiotherapist.

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