Icing a sprain may actually interfere with healing. Check out what science is telling us now.

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A while ago, I began offering patients a new brochure called RICE no more on what to do instead of icing everything swollen and painful.  It was based on the current science. Apparently, the public and health professionals are just starting to embrace these new ideas. The evidence is growing that icing as we used to do it based on dogma from the 1970s does not stand up to scientific scrutiny according to a recent Washington Post article. A recent blog post takes this on and explains the new science and how we should approach the treatment of sprains and strains moving forward.

Why Icing a Sprain Doesn’t Help, and Could Slow Recovery

By trying to reduce inflammation, you could also be interfering with the process of repair.

The Washington PostAndrew P. Han If you’ve ever needed to recover from an athletic injury, you’ve probably used ice to reduce soreness and swelling. For decades, doctors and athletic trainers have recommended RICE — rest, ice, compression and elevation — to reduce the pain and inflammation of sprained ankles. Inflammation has been viewed as the enemy of recovery. But what if that’s not quite right? What if inflammation is an indication of recovery, and icing and other cold-based “cryotherapy” only delays it? Icing, it turns out, is like flossing: an ingrained practice that seems practical but is not strongly supported by clinical evidence. The oldest justifications for icing, dating to the 1970s, have melted under scientific scrutiny, some cryotherapy researchers say, and most scientific studies on icing haven’t provided the solid results that would justify its popularity. This is true, they say, both for icing for daily recovery and for an injury. Read more