The PRICE regime is a simple five step protocol which anyone can apply to minimise the effects of an immediate injury. The earlier the process can be implanted the better, the PRICE protocol is believed to be extremely beneficial within the first 24-72 hours after the injury occurs.
This protocol is designed to be applied to an injury immediately after it is sustained, while further medical attention is sought. However, if the patient experiences too much pain during this process it must be stopped immediately.
So, what are the five steps to take when you suffer an injury?
P – Protection
Protection is key, the injured person as well as the areas being treated should be protected. If the injury takes place on a pitch the game needs to be stopped.
A splint may be applied to the area of the body which is being treated as protection.
If the person who is injured can move, then moving them to a safer area using a stretcher or crutch is a viable choice, however, if there is any doubt the person should not be moved.
R – Rest
Rest is important to allow for healing. The term ‘relative rest’ is used throughout the sporting world, which means that rest allows for healing, but is not too restrictive that the recovery is then comprised or slowed.
Any activities which stress the injured area to the point of pain should be avoided, but some movement can be beneficial. Basic, pain free and gentle movements of the joints and muscles surrounding the injury may even speed recovery.
I – Ice
Ice is the use of cryotherapy, cold treatment such as an ice bag being placed on the injured area to minimise and reduce swelling.
However, don’t forget to protect the skin to prevent cold burns to the skin, this can be done by simply placing a cloth over the affected area before using an ice bag.
Remember to limit the skin to cold exposure, cycles of 10-15 minutes on and 1-2 hours off are generally seen as effective and safe than along continuous application periods.
C – Compression
Applying the wrap does require some attention, the wrap be applied directly to the skin and should begin a few inches below the injured area before wrapping in a figure of eight or spiralling manner to a few inches above the injured area.
A medium amount of tension should be applied allowing ample, but not too constrictive compression.
E – Elevation
Elevation is recommended to help reduce the pooling in the injured area. Controlling swelling can help decrease pain and may limit the loss of range of motion and possibly speed up recovery time.
Elevation is accomplished by positioning the injured area above the level of the heart. Elevation during most waking hours, when possible, and positioning the injured limb effectively during sleep will be most effective in the first 24-48 hours.
Always ensure the patient is comfortable, and if elevation causes excessive pain then stop the elevation.