The Difference Between RICE & Rice

sprained ankleToday, we distinguish between another two often-confused entities: RICE and rice.

RICE is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.  RICE is often used to treat musculoskeletal injuries such as sprains and strains.  Rice, on the other hand, is the most widely-consumed staple grain in the world.  Rice is not used to treat musculoskeletal injuries.  Applying rice to a swollen knee would just lead to all the rice spilling on the floor and that’s just a waste of food.

RICE is a form of medical treatment.  Rice is a food.

Rice, both African and Asian, is versatile, as evidenced by their ability to grow on steep hills with a system of terraces.  Cultivating rice is labor intensive and requires a lot of water.  This is different from RICE, which encourages rest, recovery, and avoidance of steep hills and terraces.  RICE should not be labor intensive.  RICE requires ice, not water (W is not part of the acronym), but it’s always good to remain hydrated.

The R in RICE stands for rest: it allows an injured part of the body to recover.  But you never want to let rice rest and sit out too long, because that’s how you get food poisoning with B. cereus.  Be sure to refrigerate the cooked rice as soon as possible!  Based on the current evidence, RICE does not cause food poisoning.

The I in RICE stands for ice: ice can really help limit swelling.  However, ice is not a classic pairing with rice.  Pretty much anything else goes with rice – I like proteins such as chicken or seafood, or anything with a broth – but definitely not ice.  That’s weird and perhaps suggestive of pica and iron-deficiency anemia.

Compression and elevation in RICE are also helpful ways to help limit inflammation in an injury.  Compression and frying of rice, with the addition of some grated vegetables or seasoning, are how you can make rice cakes.  Rice and rice cakes can be eaten simultaneously during RICE therapy.

NSAIDs are a very useful adjunct to RICE therapy.  But NSAIDs, like ice, do not pair well with rice.  If you do develop food poisoning from B. cereus, Tylenol can help in the treatment of any fevers.

There are numerous varieties of rice, over 90,000 samples of cultivated or wild rice species.  There are also numerous variations of RICE: HI-RICE (Hydration, Ibuprofen, RICE), PRICE (Protection, RICE), PRICES (Protection, RICE, Support), PRINCE (Protection, RI, NSAIDs, CE), and RICER (RICE, Referral).

Finally, for those who have an advanced grasp of the difference between RICE and rice, here are two extra tidbits to really impress your colleagues on rounds: Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL and Rice University is a private university established in 1912 in Houston, Texas.  Neither are a medical treatment or a form of food.

Now, do you know the difference between…
a medical student and a deer in headlights?
a medicine service and a garbage dump?
arthropods & orthopods?
medical students and residents?
white clouds & black clouds?