R.I.C.E. (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) is turned on its Head..

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An interesting study out this am suggests that icing an injury is a bad idea and may delay healing. For those of us involved in regenerative medicine, this comes as no surprise. Turns out ice inhibits the release of a key repair hormone. The problem with R.I.C.E. is that it’s really a treatment to reduce the likelihood of severe injury from a compartment syndrome, not one that was ever validated to help everyday injuries heal. Since a compartment syndrome is a rare event, why are we telling patients to use a method that inhibits healing to prevent a rare problem? I would go as far as saying our whole concept of trying to reduce inflammation after an injury is a bad idea, which includes NSAID’s like Motrin, Aleve, and Ibuprofen. These drugs have already been shown to also delay fracture healing. In addition corticosteroids have been known for awhile to also dramatically kill off cartilage cells (chondrocyte apoptosis) in joints and adult stem cells responsible for repair . These topics are discussed in more detail, including why inflammation in the context of injury healing is a good thing, in my on-line book, Orthopedics 2.0.

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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