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Sport Injury: When is R.I.C.E. not enough?

By May 7, 2009 - 12:58pm
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I have found such great information on this site, that I wanted to ask another question!

I recently played a game of co-rec softball (haven't played for YEARS), and sustained an unfortunate injury while playing. Let's just say I "caught" a line drive with my thigh, just above my knee (thank goodness!).

It hurt, but I was able to play the remainder of the game. (I know, I shouldn't have...).

The first night, the area was red; a perfect imprint of the softball. You can even see where the laces of the ball were. The next day, the bruise was bigger and really swollen.

Now, two days later, the bruise has doubled in size and is deep purple, blue and now green. I think the swelling has gone down a bit. I know this is normal, but when do you know if you should go to the doctor versus just do the recommended R.I.C.E.? (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Is RICE something you do until the bruise goes away, or is it only during the first 24 hours?

oh--and more information-- I can walk on my leg, it is just sore to the touch on the bruise. No other symtpoms (no tingling or loss of sensation or anything).


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The National Athletic Trainer's Association (NATA) has a great handout on R.I.C.E. that you can view online here.

The R.I.C.E. is the best method to control swelling. From my understanding, the "I" (ice) is best used during the first 24-48 hours, combined with the rest, compression and elevation, and the NATA said that it depends on severity of injury. A good therapy can be: 20 minutes of ice on, then 20 minutes of ice off, during the first 24 hours (unless you are sleeping, of course).

If you still have swelling after 24 hours, I believe the ice is not as effective, but the rest, elevation and compression are still your best bets for recovery (compression is just using an ace bandage around the area, to control swelling).

When to see a doctor for a muscle contusion (bruise) to soft tissue:
* The injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness
* You can't tolerate any weight on the area
* The pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability.

You can read more about sports injury treatment and prevention here.

May 7, 2009 - 2:17pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had something similar happen to my ankle a few years ago. It swelled enough that I was afraid I had actually broken it, so after some negative xrays, I basically got the R.I.C.E. answer from my doctor.

There isn't a whole lot you can do for contusions other than time.

May 7, 2009 - 1:24pm
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