The Price is Right

By: Eugene Sims

No, not another lame TV show, but a reference to the acronym PRICE. P for Protection, R for rest, I for Ice, C for compression and E for Elevation. This is the protocol for acute soft tissue injury care. For example, sprained joints and muscles, bruises, fingers jammed in car doors and so forth. The goal of PRICE is to achieve the fastest recovery and most complete healing for the injured area. While it is a simple set of instructions, it is often poorly complied with. So hopefully, by sharing some detail on the subject, it will help people to do the best for themselves and family members.


Protect from further harm. This, in some ways, is the most critical factor. It may mean using mobility aids to avoid overusing the injured area (e.g. crutches with a sprained ankle). Protection applies for the entirety of the recovery period. Often people return too soon to sports or work when the injury hasn’t fully healed. The risk of re-injury can then be very high. Do you really want to go through it all over again?


This sounds straight forward enough, but it is often misunderstood. This means resting the injured body part from any stress that will increase inflammation or cause further damage. As inflammation is often the biggest hurdle in acute injuries, how someone rests is critical. With a severely sprained ankle, resting means not walking around all day with crutches or sitting in a chair with your foot down all day. This would not be a rest for your ankle, as it would swell up a lot.


Ice is the safest and cheapest anti-inflammatory around. Apply ice to the injured part of the body for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time. Icing for longer can have the body send more blood to the injury to maintain the temperature, and this is counterproductive. Repeat ice therapy hourly during the first day and as needed after this. This will help the pain and swelling. Never put ice directly onto the skin (unless you also want an ice burn), but use a damp cloth between the ice and the skin.


Pressure around the injury site also helps keep the swelling down. Tubi-grip is a great product. It is easy to use and relatively safe. Tubi-grip is essentially like a sock with openings at each end. If using a bandage, don’t apply too tight or you can cut off the blood flow.


The last of the anti-inflammation trilogy. Position the injured area above the level of your heart. This is most important in the first 24 hours, but is also important for days following in more serious injuries. It helps to keep the swelling down. I have also found one dose of homeopathic Arnica to do wonders for injuries (often removing all the pain). For best results, take as soon after injury as possible.

by Eugene Sims, Warkworth Natural Therapies


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