Post Injury Care...METH or RICE?

It used to be common knowledge that after any injury the initial treatment was Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (or RICE). But recently there’s been a change in perspective in a fraction of the sports medicine world that’s suggesting that a new acronym may be better served at treating new injuries. The new acronym is METH and in this post we’ll break it down for you:

M: Movement

Probably the most important change we’ll see. No more prolonged rest and immobilization after an injury. It’s now be shown that prolonged immobilization of an injury can have a deleterious effect on the healing of an injury. Pain free range of motion exercises promotes the proper healing of soft tissues and helps decrease swelling by actively using muscles to pump waste products out our lymphatic system. The result is greater range of motion after the injury has fully healed (thus decreasing chances of recurrence) and speeding up of the inflammatory process allowing for quicker healing.

E: Elevation

Elevation still makes the list as an effective means of treating an injury. The goal of the new acronym is to limit swelling while still allowing the inflammatory process to run its course. Placing an injury above the heart allows us to use the force of gravity to limit swelling and speedhealing.

T: Traction

Traction takes the place of compression in the new model. The idea is that compressing an injury restricts blood flow and prevents vital healing particles from reaching the injured area while traction helps take pressure off the injured area.

H: Heat

Switching from ice to heat is probably the most controversial and most hotly debated change. Those who support the use of heat suggest that inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and bringing more blood to the area will help speed the process (Want more info? Check out this video:

So is RICE or METH a better way to go after an injury? Just like anything in this world there doesn’t seem to be a black and white answer. Evolve Performance Healthcare recommends a combination of both. Ice can be used to decrease pain levels but if the goal is to speed up the inflammatory process you may want to try moist heat. Protecting and not overusing an injured area is important but the sooner we implement movement into our injury care, the better long term results we can achieve.