How are sprains treated?

Healthcare providers advise patients to follow the rest, ice, compress and elevation (RICE) method for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

  • Rest: Reduce regular exercises and activities of daily living. Your healthcare provider may advise you to not put weight on the injured area for 48 hours. You may need to use crutches.
  • Ice: Apply an ice pack to injured area for 20 minutes, 4 to 8 times a day. You can use a cold pack, ice bag or plastic bag filled with ice wrapped in a towel. To avoid frost bite and cold injury, do not apply the ice for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Compression: Compression of the injured area my help reduce swelling. Elastic wraps, specialized boots, air casts and splints may be used as compression bandages. Ask your healthcare provider which would be the most appropriate to use. Also ask how tightly to apply the bandage safely.
  • Elevation: In order to help decrease swelling, keep the injured area elevated on a pillow above the level of your heart.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy