Robert S. Rice, MD


rice logoAn expert at diagnosing and treating sports injuries, Dr. Robert S. Rice brings to Tanner Clinic a wide range of skills and training, including a five-year residency at the Mayo Clinic, which has ranked near the top of the U.S. News & World Report list of “Best Hospitals” for more than 20 years.

Dr. Rice earned his M.D. from Tulane University in New Orleans, then completed a Mayo Clinic residency in orthopedic surgery, where he was named the Trauma Resident of the Year in 2009. He continued his training with a fellowship in sports medicine at Taos Orthopedic Institute in Taos, N.M. He’s earned board certification from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

US Ski and Snowboard Medical Team | Tanner ClinicDr. Rice treats a wide spectrum of orthopedic conditions, specializing in arthroscopic surgery and sports-related injuries to the knee and shoulder. In addition to treating his patients, Dr. Rice has been a member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding medical team since 2013.

A native of Northern Utah and a graduate of the University of Utah, Dr. Rice returned to Utah to join Tanner Clinic’s staff because of proximity to family and his interests in such physical activities as fly fishing, skiing, hunting, golfing, camping and horseback riding.

 

 

Procedures

ACL

Injuries to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in the knee are fairly common. When the ACL is injured the result is instability of the knee joint. This can be manifest through knee buckling or giving way. This abnormal motion in the knee can cause injury to other structures such as the meniscus or cartilage. In order to restore the normal function of the ACL and knee stability, reconstruction surgery can be performed. Prior to undergoing surgery, it is important that the injured knee have near normal motion, but in achieving the ability to fully straighten (extension) the knee, as well as bending (flexion) the knee. If surgery is performed before acceptable motion is present, then there is a significantly increased risk of knee stiffness following the operation.

There are various techniques currently utilized to surgically repair the ACL. In all techniques, the goal is to provide a new ACL that restores the normal stability of the knee allowing return to normal activity. The technique I use most regularly is all- inside ACL reconstruction. In this manner, smaller tunnels are created in the bone and the hard surface (cortex) of the bone is not violated. This allows for smaller incisions in the skin and typically less pain. With the reduction in immediate post- procedure pain, patients are more likely to achieve normal motion earlier in their recovery.

Equally important as the surgical repair is the post-operative rehabilitation in achieving full knee recovery and function. Patients are allowed to begin walking on the surgically repaired leg the same day of surgery. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process. Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return, and balance training. When full recovery from ACL surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.

Cartilage

Injuries to the cartilage of the knee are fairly rare. Knee cartilage is the smooth firm covering of the bones that allows for the gliding movement of the joint. When the cartilage is injured the result can be instability, swelling, catching, and pain of the knee joint. Unfortunately, the cartilage in our joints does not possess the ability to repair itself. In order to restore the smooth joint surface and normal function of the reparative surgery can be performed.

There are several procedures currently utilized to surgically repair injured cartilage. In all techniques, the goal is to provide covering cartilage that restores the normal smooth surface of the knee allowing return to normal activity. These techniques range from drilling holes in the bone to access bone marrow stem cells, to transfer of cartilage from other areas within the knee, to obtaining cartilage from a donor.

Each cartilage injury is different and the size, shape, and location of the injury determine which technique is best employed. Just as each surgical procedure is different, so are the post-surgical recovery and restrictions. Just as important as the surgical repair is the post-operative rehabilitation in achieving full knee recovery and function. Some of the procedures allow for immediate weight bearing (walking), while others require a period of crutch use with the leg protected from weight. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process.

Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return, and balance training. When full recovery from ACL surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.

Rotator Cuff

Injuries to the Rotator Cuff in the shoulder are fairly common. When the Rotator Cuff is injured the result is pain, weakness, and motion loss of the shoulder. This abnormal function in the shoulder can cause difficulty sleeping and an inability to use the shoulder for normal activities. In order to restore the normal function of the shoulder and to reduce pain, reparative surgery can be performed. The goal of rotator cuff repair is to reattach the torn tendon back to the bone and restore the function of this important muscle group.

There are various techniques currently utilized to surgically repair the rotator cuff. In all techniques, the goal is to provide tendon to bone healing in the shoulder allowing return to normal activity. The technique I use most regularly is arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. This allows for smaller incisions in the skin and typically less pain. With the reduction in immediate post-procedure pain, patients are more likely to achieve normal motion earlier in their recovery.

Just as important as the operative repair is the post-surgical rehabilitation in achieving full shoulder recovery and function. Patients are allowed to begin gentle motion exercises shortly after surgery. A shoulder brace is worn for six weeks following surgery to protect the repair and promote a healthy healing environment in the shoulder. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process. Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return. When full recovery from shoulder surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.

Shoulder Instability

Injuries that affect shoulder stability are fairly common. Dislocation or subluxation (partial dislocation) events to the shoulder result in damage to the labrum and capsular ligaments, important stabilizing structures of the shoulder joint. When the shoulder stability is compromised the result is pain, weakness, instability and motion loss of the shoulder. This abnormal function in the shoulder can cause difficulty sleeping and an inability to use the shoulder for normal activities. In order to restore the normal function of the shoulder and to reduce pain, reparative surgery can be performed. The goal of shoulder stabilization repair is to reattach the torn labrum and capsule back to the shoulder socket and restore the function of these important stabilizing structures.

There are various techniques currently utilized to surgically repair the unstable shoulder. In all techniques, the goal is to provide soft tissue to bone healing in the shoulder allowing return to normal activity. The technique I use most regularly is arthroscopic stabilization. This allows for smaller incisions in the skin and typically less pain. With the reduction in immediate post-procedure pain, patients are more likely to achieve normal motion earlier in their recovery.

Equally as important as the surgical repair is the post-surgical rehabilitation in achieving full shoulder recovery and function. Patients are allowed to begin gentle motion exercises shortly after surgery. A shoulder brace is worn for six weeks following surgery to protect the repair and promote a healthy healing environment in the shoulder. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process. Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return. When full recovery from shoulder surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.

Before You Visit Dr. Rice

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Orthopedic History

Orthopedic Follow-Up

What Patients Say About Dr. Rice

“I saw Dr. Rice and he helped me figure out what was wrong with my knee. He did the surgery for me and it turned out great!” – Colby on Google, May 2017

“Best in the world. Thank you for making me all better, Dr. Rice. I feel fabulous. Your staff as well is very caring and professional!”   —  Peggy on Facebook, Feb. 16, 2015

“Dr. Rice put my ankle back together and was so professional and caring. Thank you, thank you!”   —  Shelley on Facebook, Feb. 16, 2015

“Went to the surgical center for my torn ACL. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable … and actively work to make sure you understand everything. Dr. Robb Rice was my surgeon and he followed up after the operation to make sure I was doing well and to answer any new questions I had. I have already recommended this be the place for my friends and family to go when they need a procedure.”     — Benjamin on Google+, July 17, 2014

“Ijust had knee surgery today by Dr. Rice. Dr. Rice is the best ortho doctor. Thank you, Dr. Rice.”   —  Patty on Facebook, Feb. 13, 2014

“Ican always count on Dr. Rice, Bryant Salmon and Dr. Todd Flitton to put me back together after a summer of races.”   —  Melody on Facebook, Feb. 10, 2014

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Orthopedic Doctor Understands the Sports Psyche

As a youngster, Dr. Robert Rice learned all about the orthopedic specialty — from the exam table. Now, as a physician and surgeon, his years as a prep athlete give him an insight in treating the many players of all ages who have been sidelined.

“I’m able to understand the mindset of the athlete,” he explains. “I’m able to understand the demands of the athlete and what they have to go through in order to perform.”

A lifelong competitor in all types of sports, Dr. Rice focused on baseball and football in high school, earning First Team Utah All-State in both sports. These days, you’ll find him on the East Bench trails mountain biking, or on the lake water-skiing — helping him identify with that other large group of injured patients he sees: the recreational contenders. That group isn’t limited to hikers and golfers. He adds, “We’ve got 65-year-olds playing in the Huntsman Games,” referring to the annual worldwide competition of senior athletes in Southern Utah.

Through it all, he remembers the regard of his younger self. “The help they provided me, allowing me to return to do the things I wanted to do — that meant a lot to me when I was on the receiving end of that care,” he says. “And I thought that doing something like that would be rewarding as a provider as well.”

Inactivity enemy of physical fitness

Dr. Rice’s specialty is arthroscopic surgery, which he define as the “utilization of a magnifying camera during surgery so you can do smaller incisions.” The small camera allows him to fine-tune the surgical procedure, he says, and “allows us to treat patients so that the pain after surgery is reduced.”

Arthroscopic surgery is most commonly used in surgeries of the knee to treat internal damage. But Dr. Rice said the specialty procedure is well utilized in shoulder surgeries, as well as for treatment of chronic conditions.

For all his patient population — basically, all of us who walk — the top-most preventative measure he recommends is to maintain their physical fitness.

The enemy of physical fitness is inactivity, he says. “A lot of the injuries we see are caused by a lack of muscle strength or lack of coordination,” he says. “You can get people who aren’t overweight and who may be at their ideal body weight, but who have very weak muscles. If their muscles aren’t functioning the way they should, they’re predisposing themselves to injury.”

Portable x-ray technology

One of the most recent technologies at Tanner Clinic is especially useful for athletes, advanced and amateur alike. The compact, portable x-ray machine is stationed right in the Tanner Clinic Orthopedic Center, allowing the orthopedic specialists to roll the x-ray machine right up to the patient and forgoing that long, painful walk to another department.

The new x-ray machine “allows us to take quicker x-ray pictures with less radiation exposure than normal x-rays,” he says. “And we can actually turn the machine (not the injured patient) to get the exact views we want.”

Dr. Rice says he understands the learning curve required of orthopedic patients, and the hard decisions they have to make. In fact, the most common question he hears is: “If this was your mother, what would you do?” (Yes, his answer is always truthful.)

And, each day, he says, he seeks the satisfaction of helping people, whether it’s through surgery, injections or even directing them to physical therapy. The most gratifying result, he says, is “seeing patients improve, hearing of their successes, hearing of their pain relief — and having them return to do the things they want to do.”

 

 

Tips for Marathon Eve

Marathon-legsDr. Ed Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minn., offers these following tips for marathon runners just prior to the big race:

♦ The day before the marathon, consume extra calories, especially high-carbohydrate foods such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, and/or potatoes.

♦ To enable fluid absorption, start drinking fluids at least four hours before exercise.

♦ Most marathoners find they perform better if they consume carbohydrates during the race. Sports drinks, bars and gels are good options.

♦ To avoid runners’ diarrhea, at least one day before running, limit or avoid sweeteners called sugar alcohols — most often found in sugar-free candies, gum and ice cream. For three to six hours before running, limit or avoid caffeine and high-fat foods.

♦ After-marathon food should include protein, preferably peanut butter or string cheese, which you should eat within two hours after stepping off the course.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Selected Research
  • “Unicompartment Knee Arthroplasty,” chapter in 2011 textbook Joint Replacement Arthroplasty, 4th Edition, edited by Mayo Clinic specialists Bernard F. Morrey, John W. Sperling and Kai-Nan An.
  • “Retrospective Review of First 215 Total Shoulder Arthroplasties Performed with Modular Prosthesis,” co-author of podium presentation at the Mid-America Orthopedic Society, 2008
  • “Augmented Glenoid Component for Bone Deficiency in Shoulder Arthroplasty,” in the publicationClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research in April 2008

 

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