RICE or MEAT?  No, I’m not trying to make you decide on dinner.  RICE and MEAT are acronyms used as mnemonic devices for remembering how to treat certain injuries. Knowing how to treat an injury is the first line of defense before seeing a doctor. For many, especially those without medical insurance, the cost of healthcare might seem out of reach.

The problem, sometimes, is knowing which of these to use.  Let’s see if we can help determine when you should use each.

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

RICE is used for acute injuries, such as sprains, strains, or muscle pulls.  These injuries come on very quickly, and generally don’t last more than a few days or weeks.  Injuries such as these are accompanied by pain, swelling, and a warm feeling at the site of injury.

When applying ice to an acute injury, try to apply it as soon as possible after the injury.  The sooner you apply the ice, the more you will control the swelling that accompanies these types of injuries.  Only leave the ice in place for 10 minutes at a time, then remove for 10 minutes and repeat.  Always put a light barrier between the ice and your skin (such as a towel or other cloth).

Rest the area to avoid re-injuring it. Elevate the area to reduce swelling. Lastly, you can use light compression (like an elastic bandage) to help control the swelling and to offer support to the disabled area.

Other injuries, on the other hand, benefit from the acronym MEAT.

MEAT stands for Movement, Exercise, Analgesics, and Treatment.

Heat is primarily used to treat older, more chronic injuries and arthritis.  It works well for stiff joints and muscles, too.

Heat can be moist or dry but must be used with caution.  You want your heat to be effective, but not so hot as to cause burns.  If it feels too hot, remove it. Heat therapy is also not a good choice for those with diabetes, deep-vein thrombosis, dermatitis, or for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

If you are applying heat and swelling increases, stop the therapy and consult with your physician.

Whether your pain is associated with an acute injury or a chronic condition, knowing how to treat it is important. If you need to see a doctor, make an appointment and go.

If you hesitate because of the cost and the lack of insurance, don’t. That’s when HOPE Healthcare Services in Avon, Indiana is here to help with our Community Care program. Our volunteer staff provides medical treatment services and dental services on an appointment-only basis. Fees are nominal, and our staff works to help our patients secure the most cost-effective advanced services available in the Hendricks County and surrounding areas.

You don’t have to risk your health because you think healthcare services are not affordable. Contact HOPE for help.


Disclaimer:  The information included in this article is for educational purposes only.  It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.