So last week I started a conversation about patients being given the choice over whether or not they should go ahead with something like a “hip replacement”.
And I get that some people just don’t want to go ahead with such a big procedure even though they’re in lot of pain and it’s severely limiting what they can do and where they can go!
But, let me tell you about a patient I know:
“Only” in his 50’s – he was given the news that he would need a hip replacement – two, in fact! Note, he wasn’t TOLD to have one, he was given time to think about it!
So he did… for two years! And with that choice, he “stalled” over making any decision.
Anyhow, the inevitable happened and TWO YEARS later, one hip was replaced, then 3 months later, the other.
So far so good.
The thing is, because he had limped and hobbled around for more than two years while making the decision, other things were starting to go wrong – first at his lower back.
And just 4 months after the second hip replacement he developed something called a “prolapsed disc” which caused sciatica (severe pain running down the back of your leg!).
What happened next? More surgery to remove the prolapsed disc.
Then he spent another three month or so recovering from this latest surgery.
What happened next?
A slight trip when out walking the dog left him with a broken bone in his foot.
No surgery needed, just a pot, a moon boot and crutches for 8 weeks or so and a likely aggravation of his lower back due to the enforced sitting and long periods of rest that are rarely good for any ones spine.
Could it have all been avoided?
See, your body is hardwired to move. And is designed to move in a specific way – and like any kinetic machine, if one of the part fails, something else has to compensate and work harder to keep the machine moving.
Think of an aeroplane – if one engine fails in mid air, you’ve got another to keep you up but it’s only designed to get you safely to the nearest run way and NOT to your original destination.
Your body is no different and if you’re limping for long periods – the equivalent of one engine failing – your back will adapt and squash discs and nerves in a way that it’s not designed – meaning things like sciatica are inevitable.
And if you’re limping heavily to avoid pain in your left hip, it means your right foot is going to be landing more heavily taking more of a “pounding” than it usually does.
And if that happens for two years or more, it should be of no surprise that bones in your foot crack “innocuously” or “out of the blue.
Now, most people might consider this story to be just a series of “bad luck” – but it absolutely isn’t.
It’s precisely the “domino” effect of injuries and aliments that I see and have seen on a daily basis for more than 12 years as a result of people “stalling” over making better health decisions.
Now, what I’m not saying is that patient choice should be taken away – absolutely not – what I am saying is that it would save so much time, money and PAIN, in the long run, if more people were given more information and helped to make better, more educated and more informed decisions about how their body REALLY works.
I believe that most people DO want to have their health restored and activity maintained, and DO want to go ahead with things like hip and knee replacements, it’s the fear of the un-known that they don’t want (to have to live with!).
Article printed in the Hartlepool Mail, Wed 29th March 2015 written by Paul Gough.