Hip Arthritis Update 9 Million. A Rant

Just got back from the hospital in Del Norte where I picked up another disk with my X-rays. Inside the envelope was the physician’s write-up of my condition. It appears the arthritis in my hip is “mild to moderate” with a small bone spur. This much the doc showed me when I was there and consulting with him in November. But there are two other things — degenerative disease (osteoarthritis) in a hitherto unnamed body part,  the pubis symphysis, and in my lower back that he did not mention at all.

Of course, I looked up pubis symphysis and read about it. I also learned that osteoarthritis there is usually caused by pregnancy or injury, but inflammation can occur as a result of muscle spasms in the thigh, groin and glute muscles and can cause intense groin pain. I shook my head reading this because my symptoms emerged DIRECTLY after I had a course of Prednisone that caused intense spasms of all those muscles in my left leg for a few nights.

I’ve also been wondering why the pain has slowly, but inexorably, retreated in the last few months. I have virtually no pain at all unless I make a sudden sideways movement with my leg/hip/butt.

I know there are doctors who read my blog. Please don’t take what I’m about to say personally. Sometimes I think doctors think their patients are stupid.

The doctor who WROTE this write-up saw me in real life in November. He listened to me tell him when the pain started. He didn’t mention to me anything about my back or this strange little joint in my pelvic area. He did not seem very concerned about the osteoarthritis in my hip joint, either.

The surgeon I saw a couple weeks ago? Though he couldn’t read the X-ray he had the write-up, too. He said nothing. Do surgeons just want to cut into people? Is it really all about money? I’ve been through this before. Last time I visited a surgeon who really seemed to have cash registers for eyes.

As a patient right now, I feel kind of cheated. What IF the groin pain (that was bad only for about 3 weeks and then diminished) wasn’t caused by my hip at all? What IF I truly do not need a hip replacement right now (ever)? What if my limp is the result of OTHER things, the degeneration of my knee joint, the degeneration of my spine and an injury to this weird little joint?

I feel like this write-up is a secret message from doctor to doctor. I don’t think that’s right. I’m an educated person and all of these body-parts are on MY body. It would be easy enough to say, “Your groin pain might be coming from this problem. The arthritis in your hip is real, and a replacement would improve your gait and overall comfort, but it’s not urgent. You have some degeneration in the disks in your lower back area which is normal for someone your age.”

Because that is the truth.


30 thoughts on “Hip Arthritis Update 9 Million. A Rant

  1. I can’t comment – what doctors do (or don’t do) for their patients can make me so angry. And it is about two things: their patients don’t know enough (or the doctor doesn’t care enough), or the litigation risk (who gave you those drugs that caused this, and are you going to sue and ask me to provide the evidence?).
    I can’t trust them, but I don’t think I should have to waste so much time and effort trying to check the validity of what they say.

    • I had a dentist I really liked, but there was a moment when he interviewed to find out about my education. After he did that, he spoke to me differently from when he thought I was someone, something, else. I get it. I had to teach all the people who came into my classrooms and that was a huge variety of people. It takes some time to get to know who they are. But in this case, with this whole thing being so much different from the symptoms and problems I had with my other hip, I’ve been really bewildered. Reading what I read today cleared that up for me. I think I should have been told all that upfront. If I’m dealing with something that won’t be fixed with a hip replacement, I should know. Anyway, I’ll see another doc next week and I’ll ask questions I wasn’t educated to ask before.

  2. Frustrating, no doubt about it. Glad you got and were able to read the full report. Now (me the doc who practiced in a less rural area) is a little confused. Was the report you read, including the narrative really written by your examining doc? Often, even if the X-ray is taken in a primary or ortho’s office, the films are also read by a radiologist who dictates the final report.This later reading can add info that the first doc didn’t catch.

    Groin pain is common with hip arthritis, but also, as you read, with symphysis pubis issues.

    Reading through your story (and other installments), my suggestion would be to do as you are doing–get more opinions. Also, if your knee is wonky, get it checked out. One of the things driven home to me in my training was to examine the joint above and below the one in question, as its not uncommon that the real culprit is elsewhere (back and knee) for hip. Are those exams being done, or is it only the X-ray being treated? Given that its a real person with a real life, its important to make sure your treating person hasn’t lost track of that.

    I’d also consider a consult by someone who specializes in rehab or non-surgical sports med, and or an accomplished physical therapist, as they may have some ways of improving function, etc that may significantly alter your need for surgery.

    Its an awful lot of work being ill/sick/injured/hurting and its more than a little ridiculous that conversations with patients are so limited. I can write several more pages on what’s involved with that, but given that this is your blog and not mine, I’ll stop here.

    • I’m VERY interested in what you have to say. I know that patient consults are now limited in time. I had a doc in CA who went into “concierge” practice where her patients (followers?) had to pay $2000 a year upfront but could have unlimited time to consult with her.

      I think your advice to talk to someone who is maybe a pro in non-surgical sports medicine is a really good idea. I also think I need to talk to someone who might look at that whole leg and back. I know my knee is messed up. I’ve seen X-rays and contemplated a knee replacement four years ago, but I rehabbed it to the point where I have no pain and almost perfect functioning. I asked the doc who looked at my hip X-rays if the arthritis in my knee could be causing problems in my hip. He just said, “It could, but not directly.”

      I just got back from a pain-free two mile walk with my dogs, using a cane, of course, but still.

      I really appreciate your take on this, not only because you’re a doc, but because you’re an athlete. I don’t look like one, but my whole life until age 57 or so was sports — hiking, trail running and mountain biking. I believe practicing intense sports creates a different body and, possibly, different issues.

      • Well, if you do come up north to see Dr Blackwood, I’d also recommend a consult with Dr.Sherrie Ballantyne at CU Sports medicine. She’s an FP with additional certification in sports medicine. I connected with her through figure skating, but she sees others as well. She’s also an osteopath who does manipulation, which on more than one occasion has been very helpful.
        I’ve been reading your book, and am appreciating how much of an intense athlete you’ve been over the years–tougher than I am going straight up so many slopes!

  3. My husband always says that doctors are like automechanics. They like to put in new parts and hope that fixes it. You have to be your own best advocate. No one else will care nearly as much. Best wishes on sorting out what ails you. Trust your gut on this. It knows you better than those doctors.

    • My gut says I don’t walk very well. 🙂 I don’t think this is mysterious. My gut also says I can fix it myself. I have a hard time believing that. That is the question.

  4. I’ll admit that some of my doctors are fantastic; others, not so much. My issue is trying to get them to understand my pain level. Yes, I can sometimes walk about and look fine. Other times, I can’t get off the seat as electricity spikes all the way up back, hips, and upper thigh. The somewhat stock answer of “let’s see how it goes” is becoming tiresome. I’ve gone through spinal injections, physio, homeopathic, etc., etc., but to no avail. The doctor is reluctant to do surgery because he doesn’t like to operate on younger people. However, finally we are going on Wed to discuss the operation. For three years the pain has lasted extensively. So, in short, literally and figuratively, Martha, I feel your pain.

    • I was 52 when I had bone on bone arthritis in my right hip. It was two years before my doctor order the right x-ray I had hip resurfacing on that hip. Age has nothing to do with that and modern prostheses are long-lasting. There’s no let’s see how it goes arthritis goes one way. I hope you’re able to get the relief you need sooner rather than later. 🙁

      • Thank you. I agree…arthritis does only go one way. I was diagnosed at 34 and it’s been declining since. Hopefully, on Wednesday, my neurosurgeon might take more progressive steps! I hope you too have as much relief as possible.

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