Skip to main content

What does RICE stand for in medical terms?

What does RICE stand for in medical terms?
3 minutes, 42 seconds

Have you ever heard your doctor or other health care provider refer to something called RICE? Have you not quite figured out what it means? If you would like to better understand what medical professionals are referring to when they use the term “RICE,” keep reading below for more information. The next time you visit your physician, you’ll be able to tell them you know exactly what it means! Read for more information on what the letters of the acronym stand for, their meanings, when you should use the RICE acronym, and when you should follow up with professional medical care.

What each letter in the acronym RICE stands for in medical terms

  • Rest.
  • Ice.
  • Compression.
  • Elevation.

The meaning of each letter in RICE in medical terms

  • Rest — One of the first things you should do should you suddenly experience a minor injury like a sprain is to stop whatever you’re doing that caused you to become injured. It also means you should avoid putting weight on it and walking. Failing to give your injury adequate rest could result in new or worsening injuries. This could occur by continuing to walk or stand if your injury is to a lower limb, or continuing to lift or bend if your injury is to an upper limb.
  • Ice — In addition to resting the area of the body that has become injured to prevent worsening injury, you should apply ice to the area. Icing the area can prevent excessive swelling around the area of the injury and can reduce pain.
  • Compression — Compression is one way to reduce the swelling around an area of injury. This can be achieved through bandaging or wrapping the injury. Anything that can be used to keep pressure on the area that has become injured and prevent fluid buildup, but nothing too tight that might prevent blood from circulating through the area, is a good option.
  • Elevation — If you have sprained your ankle, you should elevate your foot using a pillow or other means of propping it up. Elevation can help reduce swelling and prevent the buildup of fluid in the area. It’s important to make sure that the affected area or limb is lifted above the level of the heart for the best results. Not only does elevation help reduce swelling and inflammation, but it can also relieve pain or discomfort.

What is the RICE acronym good for?

Rice isn’t just something you can eat, it’s also a helpful acronym that can be used for injury care.

  • The RICE acronym is meant to be a tool you can use to remember the correct ways to care for an injury. Each letter of the word stands for one of the steps you should take should you injure yourself, like spraining an ankle, for example. The purpose of RICE is to minimize swelling and reduce pain for minor injuries like sprains or strains. So, the next time your medical provider asks you if you know what RICE stands for in medical terms, you can say yes!
  • You can use the RICE acronym for injuries to the ankles like sprains, knee injuries, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, or really any other joint in your body. This first-aid response treatment is also helpful for physical traumas to the soft tissue, including muscles, tendons and ligaments. Some specific types of soft tissue traumas include bruises, sprains, tendinitis, bursitis and repetitive strains.

What else should I know about RICE and what it means in medical terms?

The RICE technique is meant to serve more as a first-aid response to injury, rather than a formal type of treatment. It’s meant to be used before professional medical services can be provided in a health care setting. It’s important to note that should you need to use RICE for a minor injury, it’s still important to see a physician or health care provider who is qualified to treat your injury. If you use the RICE method and your symptoms are persisting, it’s important that you contact your doctor or physical therapist for assistance in treating your injury. This technique is not a cure. It’s simply an immediate injury response technique that can hold you over until you can seek further care.

Alliance PTP is ready to help you understand what RICE stands for in medical terms

At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we’re proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that’s close to you and that can help you understand what RICE stands for in medical terms.  Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform.  Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.

Get Help at a Location Near You

Find a Location