How to Bring Down Swelling From an Injury Fast

When you sustain an injury, fluid collects in the area and causes swelling -- if enough fluid collects, it can cause increased pain. A common therapy regimen known as RICE -- rest, ice, compression and elevation -- can be applied to treat minor injuries such as sprains, strains and bruises. This process can quickly reduce inflammation and swelling. In some cases, if the injury is minor and RICE is applied immediately after the injury, you may be able to prevent swelling entirely.

Step 1

Begin to wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage. Make only one pass over the area.

Step 2

Place the cold compress on the bandage, directly on top of the injured area.

Step 3

Continue to wrap the injured area with the elastic bandage, enclosing the cold compress within the bandaging. Finish wrapping and fasten the end to the bandage.

Step 4

Place enough pillows under the injured area so that it is elevated above the heart.

Step 5

Wait 20 minutes. Then, unwrap the bandage enough to remove the cold compress. Remove the compress, rewrap the bandage and fasten.

Step 6

Put the compress in the freezer. Wait 40 minutes and then reinsert the cold compress into the bandage.

Things You'll Need

  • Elastic bandage

  • Cold compress, such as a soft blue ice pack

  • Pillows


A safe cycle for cold-compress therapy is 20 minutes with the compress on the injury, followed by 40 minutes with the compress off. This cycle can be repeated four to eight times a day for one to two days.

To hasten the reduction of swelling, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may be used in conjunction with RICE.

If pain or swelling persists, or if you suspect you might have a more serious injury than a minor strain or sprain, seek medical attention.


Never sleep while wearing a cold compress. It could cause cold injury. Rest is a fundamental component of the RICE regimen. Do not use or bear weight until the injury as healed.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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