Most adults complain of achy joints every now and then, and with the current weather, we’re having a lot of complaints from our seniors in particular. They swear that they can tell if it’s going to rain through their pains. Others often blame it on an old injury, and rarely do people think it could be arthritis. Only when the pain and stiffness become unbearable or other symptoms occur, do people decide to visit their doctors for advice. Arthritis is often thought of as a disease that afflicts only elderly people; so younger adults wait to see if the symptoms would go away on their own. To help deal with the symptoms, RICE treatment is recommended.
RICE therapy is an effective method for treating inflammation and pain in your joints, which are due to injury or arthritis. This natural home treatment helps you cope with joint pain and swelling. What is Rice therapy? RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
This is the first suggestion that is made to alleviate pain. As much as possible, reduce the use of the painful joint. Avoid putting weight on the affected joint for at least two days. Stop or limit using the joint if possible, especially for repetitive movements. Since your joints may become stiff because of inactivity, don’t rest too long. Let the pain and swelling guide your activity. Resume normal activity when the swelling is reduced, and the pain is no longer severe. Resting the joint can help keep the swelling from increasing, which keeps the pain level down.
Use an ice bag, cold pack, or a towel-wrapped plastic bag filled with ice on the affected area to reduce swelling. Ice packs could be used several times a day, but only for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The coldness reduces swelling by constricting the blood vessel, causing a mild numbness in the painful area. Using ice can be uncomfortable until your skin gets used to it, but it will help with deep joint pain.
This simply means to reduce the movement of a joint or to add pressure to an injury. Compression can help keep swelling to a minimum and reduce pain felt with arthritis. Elastic wraps can be used to put compression on a joint. Be sure not to wrap the joint too tightly, and to remove the wrap after a few hours. If your joint swelling is severe or occurs often, your doctor may give you an air cast or boot to wear that applies compression to your joint.
Keep the injured area above the level of the heart. When a joint is higher than the heart, the blood flow is not as strong, and painful throbbing is reduced. It also helps drain fluid and reduce swelling. This is most effective when you do it as soon as the injury or swelling occurs. Elevate the joint for the first 24 hours while you are in the resting phase of your RICE therapy.
Pillows may be used as well to help support the painful joints. Be sure to use something that is stable to prop your leg onto. You may notice RICE therapy may cause your arthritic joint to stiffen. If this happens, ask your doctor if you can alternate RICE therapy with heat therapy. Heat increases blood flow to tissues and helps combat stiffness.
When to Visit your Doctor/Podiatrist
If you have tried all of the RICE treatment and the pain has not subsided, then it may be time to seek professional help. A doctor/podiatrist can advise you about other options, and prescribe a medication to help relieve the pain. As well, if you tried over the counter medication with the RICE treatment and you can no longer control your pain, contact your doctor/podiatrist. Arthritis can severely affect a person’s ability to function. Because of this, your medical professional needs to be consulted before damage is done to the joints.
Once a person is diagnosed with arthritis, your friends, family, and even strangers will offer advice about what helped their own symptoms. Beware… each individual will need to discover on their own what helps their pain. For some, heat will work better than ice, or rest will be better than exercise. RICE is an easy way to remember what treatments might help ease your arthritis pain.