The PRICE principle for treating common sports injuries

The U.S. Marines say that “pain is weakness leaving your body.” Most of the rest of us would add, “OK, but can’t we hurry it up a little?” The answer is yes. Using the PRICE method to treat any common sports injury will help get you back in the game sooner.

First, it’s important to know that swelling is a normal response to these injuries. Excessive swelling, though, can reduce range of motion and interfere with healing. You can limit swelling and start healing faster after common sports injuries by using the PRICE principle:

  • P — protect from further injuryFor more severe injuries, protect the injured area with a splint, pad, or crutch.
  • R — restrict activityRestricting activity will prevent worsening of the injury.
  • I — apply iceApply ice immediately after a common sports injury. “Ice is the miracle drug” for sports injuries, says Putukian. “It’s an anti-inflammatory, without many side effects.” Use ice for 20 minutes every one to two hours for the first 48 hours after the injury. Don’t use heat during this time — it encourages swelling and inflammation.
  • C — apply compressionCompression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling.
  • E — elevate the injured areaElevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling.

Over-the-counter pain relievers usually relieve the pain of common sports injuries to a tolerable level. If they don’t, it’s probably time to see a doctor.