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RICE — which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation — is a first-aid strategy for most musculoskeletal injuries, including those involving the knees and hips. It is sometimes the only treatment you need.
Rest. Continuing to put stress on a painful injury can make it worse. Injuries need rest in order to heal. Rest doesn't always mean inactivity, however. Depending on the condition, you may need to stay off a leg entirely, cut back the distance you can run or walk without pain, switch to low-impact activities, or exercise using other parts of the body. It's important to rest an injury or flare-up of pain for a few days, but long periods of inactivity can make ongoing knee and hip problems worse by decreasing flexibility and weakening the muscles that support and protect the joints.
Ice. Cold numbs pain and reduces swelling by constricting blood vessels. After surgery or injury, wrap an ice pack in a cloth and apply for 20 minutes, remove for 20 minutes, apply for 20 minutes, and so on. To prevent frostbite, do not apply ice directly to the skin. Your source for cold can be as simple as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel, but you can also buy easy-to-secure neoprene wraps with pockets for gel packs that you keep in the freezer. Most elaborate are electric "continuous-flow cold therapy" devices that deliver cold through pads shaped for different joints; your doctor or physical therapist may recommend such a device after surgery. Ice helps knee injuries of all types. For hip injuries, cold can't penetrate deep into the hip joint itself, but it is still effective for hip pain stemming from problems closer to the surface, such as trochanteric bursitis. There's more content below this advertisement. Jump to the content.
After injury, use ice alone for 24–48 hours. After that, you can continue using ice, switch to heat, or alternate. Ice increases stiffness; you may find it beneficial to use warmth before stretching and other exercise, following with ice afterward to minimize swelling. You can give yourself an ice rub by freezing water in a paper cup. Peel back the paper a little so you can apply the ice while holding the paper covering.
Compression. After a knee injury, gentle pressure can reduce swelling and hasten recovery time. Wrap an injured joint in an elastic bandage, taking care that the wrap isn't so tight that the skin below the joint becomes cool or blue. Neoprene stretch knee supports provide compression and have a hole for the kneecap to prevent irritation. Elevation. Elevating the injured area takes advantage of gravity to reduce the swelling and painful throbbing that occurs when lots of blood pools in the area. Prop your knee up on a stool with pillows to raise the height, or lie down with your knee on a pillow.
Elevation. Elevating the injured area takes advantage of gravity to reduce the swelling and painful throbbing that occurs when lots of blood pools in the area. Prop your knee up on a stool with pillows to raise the height, or lie down with your knee on a pillow.