Health Tips

Search by health tip group
Search by keyword

Health Tips / Treatment - First 24 hours

The body responds quickly to injury through the inflammatory response. This results in swelling and stiffness in the injured area. It is important to treat the injury as soon as possible within the first 24 hours as excessive inflammation may lengthen the healing process and can often make diagnosis difficult.

For serious injury always consult your doctor or physiotherapist. 
To find a Chartered Physiotherapist in your area check

Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE)

The basic principles of treatment for the first 24 hours after injury can be summed up in the pneumonic:  RICE


The body needs adequate time to heal. Excessive exercise may result in further damage and inflammation. Always consult your medical professional regarding your recovery programme.


Reducing the temperature of the injured area will help to limit inflammation, swelling and pain. This may be achieved by wrapping ice in a towel or cloth and applying it to the injured area. Never apply ice directly to the skin as this may result in skin damage.

Instant ice packs are useful for emergency situations. The pack is activated by shaking the contents to the bottom of the bag, holding the centre of the bagand squeezing firmly. The bag is then shaken vigorously. This form of ice pack is useable once only.

Reuseable ice packs contain gels that may be refrigerated and are more economical for regular use. These may be purchased separately or together with a cover and strap to hold the ice pack in position. Many of these products can also be heated for use as hot-packs.

Freeze sprays are topical analgesic sprays which freeze the area to kill pain. They are not suitable for use on children under 6 years, on broken skin or on the head, fingers and toes and should not be used more than 3 times daily. The nozzle is held at least 6ins from the site of pain and sprayed for 3-5 seconds, repeated once or twice at 30 second intervals.


Compression limits swelling and provides support.

This may be achieved in a number of ways:

Strapping can be carried out with an elasticated compression bandage or crepe bandage such as ELASTOCREPE. Tubular bandages such as TUBIGRIP are useful as they apply uniform pressure to the area and do not involve a complicated strapping technique. They come in a variety of sizes for different applications and are available in 0.5m and 1m lengths which can be cut or folded to size. Folding over will provide increased support and compression.

Anatomical supports are available for specific areas of the body. These are generally more useful later in the recovery process providing support when exercising on a recovering injury. Anatomical supports are available as elasticated cotton (PROSPORT and PROCARE ranges) or as more supportive but more expensive neoprene  ranges. In some cases these may be reinforced with wire or metal splints to restrict movement in a particular direction, for example, in some cases of ligament damage in the knee or ankle.

Anatomical supports containing magnetic healing discs,Magnetic TheraP are extremely popular among top athletes.


Elevation will help to prevent swelling by encouraging draining of the injured area. Try to rest injured legs on a foot stool when sitting or use a pillow to raise legs when sleeping. Triangular bandages or slings may be necessary for arms.


For serious injury always consult your doctor or physiotherapist. 
To find a Chartered Physiotherapist in your area check

Related health tips:
Last update: 16/05/2013 12:38 • Previous update: 30/11/-0001 00:00