Our President Kevin Beswick recently wrote this piece about using the RICE method versus only Ice for sprains and strains. Check it out!
Don't Use Ice?
By Kevin Beswick
Let me start by saying this… I’m not a doctor and I don’t claim to know nearly what they do. However, I have been involved with helping companies manage thousands of work comp claims over my 23-years as a safety professional, so I know more than the “average bear”. I recently learned something new about the treatment of sprains and strains that you might find useful.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sprains and strains have been the leading type of work-related injury for many years (accounting for over 30%). They not only cause pain and discomfort for our employees, but they also slow the pace of our employees and frequently require time away from work, directly impacting productivity and profit. They can also generate significant medical expenses, especially if physical therapy is involved. Because of all this, it’s important for employees who experience a sprain or strain to treat them correctly so they can heal and return to 100% as quickly as possible.
The ideal situation is for employees to report all injuries to their company immediately, so that proper care can be issued. However, that doesn’t always happen, especially when dealing with sprains and strains that could be misunderstood or dismissed as aches and pains that come along with hard labor. Because of this, I feel it’s important for companies to tell their employees to report all incidents immediately and also teach their employees how to properly care for sprains and strains (in case they fail to report). This could help prevent a minor injury from becoming a major injury.
I have always heard and seen doctors prescribe the “RICE” method to treat sprains and strains, which stands for Rest – Ice – Compress – Elevate. While teaching a class recently and encouraging students to follow this method, I had someone approach me during a break and encourage me to watch “Squat University’s” YouTube video about the RICE method.
Later that day I watched the suggested video which encouraged people to not use ice when treating a sprain or stain. They said the RICE method was developed by Dr. Gabe Mirkin in 1978, but Dr. Mirkin issued a statement in 2015 admitting his method was wrong. It went on to explain how using ice can slow the healing process. Wanting to learn more, I searched for the actual statement that Dr. Mirkin had issued.
What I found was that Squat University was only quoting part of what Dr. Mirkin said. It is true that Dr. Mirkin said ice slows down the healing process. However, he went on to say, “Since applying ice to an injury as been shown to reduce pain, it is acceptable to cool an injured part for short periods soon after the injury occurs. You could apply the ice for up to 10 minutes, remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat the 10-minute application once or twice. There is no reason to apply ice more than 6-hours after you have injured yourself.” A link to the full statement is provided below.
In conclusion, the RICE method is still an effective method of treating sprains and strains, which is why most physicians still prescribe it today. However, the use of ice should be limited to short intervals and stopped after 6-hours. This will minimize initial pain but allow employees to heal quicker. If you have been teaching your employees about the RICE method, you might include this information.