What is the cryotherapy PRICE method?

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The PRICE method has been the standard in managing acute sporting injuries. It stands for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. The treatment option must be applied as early as possible and continue for 24-48 hours.

A close look on the PRICE method

Once soft tissue damage occurs, particularly muscle tears or blood vessel rupture, the site of injury starts to swell. The increase in the blood volume in the affected area can lead to cell death due to secondary hypoxic injury. Remember that every effort must be carried out to manage excessive bleeding.


Rest is the initial line of action for any sports injury. The individual must rest immediately from sporting activities. The individual should know when to stop training since constant minor injuries can lead to a large-scale injury that could have been prevented by proper rest and treatment.

PRICE method
Applying compression over a wound can prevent excessive swelling and must be done about 24-48 hours from the onset of injury.

Application of ice

Cryotherapy is a commonly used treatment used for acute sports injuries. The application of ice on injuries in the acute phase can drastically reduce the extent of damage such as the following:

  • Reduce the amount of bleeding through vasoconstriction
  • Minimizes the swelling
  • Reduces muscle spasm
  • Minimizes the risk of cell death by reducing the metabolism rate

The ice must be left in place for about 15-20 minutes for each session.


Applying compression over a wound can prevent excessive swelling and must be done about 24-48 hours from the onset of injury. Compression works by increasing the pressure inside the tissue, thus constricting the blood vessels. This will slow down the inflammatory process and prevents excessive edema from building up inside the joint.

Using a compression bandage which is an elastic bandage is the most effective method. The advantage of a compression bandage is easy application and the elastic provides enough pressure to control the bleeding in the area.

A regular bandage can also be applied to the area but care must be observed not to wrap tightly since this will contribute to tissue death. Once the peripheral limbs end up bruised or cold, there is a possibility that the bandage is applied tightly. You have to start the application beneath the damaged site with each layer overlying the first layer. Take note that compression can also be applied with an ice pack either manually or by wrapping the ice pack in the bandage.


Elevation of the injured limb will allow gravity to draw the fluid away from the site of injury. This will help in reducing the swelling, thus decreasing the pain linked with the edema. When it comes to lower limb injuries, you have to keep the ankle above the level of the hip. For upper limb injuries, they can be elevated by using a cushion or pillow or a sling. The affected limb must be elevated for as long as possible throughout the day for the initial 48 hours.

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