Dealing with chronic pain
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In chronic pain, NHS won't help due to weight

AbbieHAbbieH Member Posts: 4 Listener
edited February 1 in Dealing with chronic pain
Hi there,

I'm new to this forum so apologies if I have posted in the wrong place but I'd love some advice on behalf of my mum. I won't give you the full story or you'll be in for a novel so I'll just try to highlight the important bits.

My mum is a 51, non-smoker and full-time worker for the NHS, we come from Coventry, UK. 

She has been suffering with a meniscus tear in her knee for a number of years now, previously misdiagnosed as arthritis. The more she has had to walk, climb stairs etc the worse the pain has gotten and it is now at the point it's affecting her daily life. She has to pay out for taxis to get to work, has been discriminated against at work due to her disability, is in agony when walking for more than 5 minutes and often breaks down in tears as she can no longer do mundane tasks such as cleaning and walking the dog. Her other knee has also started to experience similar problems, currently diagnosed as arthritis. 

After finally being diagnosed correctly, she has been told she is to heavy for surgery and they will not operate on her till she has a BMI of 40. Since she is pretty much unable to exercise and also suffers with severe depression, trying to get weight off is a struggle when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. We used to go to the gym and for walks etc to keep fit, which is now not possible for her. 

If anyone on here has had similar problems with the NHS, we'd really like to hear your advice and stories. We are just not in a place where we could afford to pay privately. 

I just desperately want my mum to have her life back, as I'm not only worried about her knee condition, but her depression this illness is making worse.

Thanks everyone for reading.

Abbie H
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Replies

  • johnsmith187johnsmith187 Member Posts: 55 Courageous
    Hello Abbie, I'm sorry to hear about your mum's health problems. But it sounds like she has a fab daughter looking after her 🙂.

    If you're asking if there's anyway she can still have surgery without meeting the fitting criteria (or weight) then it is highly unlikely as even if your GP did refer her it would be kicked back by the surgeon.  

    Some things you can do however would be.

    1, Go back to the gp and ask for help with your mum's weight, they will be able to discuss options with her and hopefully put a plan in place to try and help her the best way they can.

    2, Also go back and discuss pain management with them,if your mum's in that much pain then they need to know so they can provide proper care.

    3, There are exercise she can do without damaging her knee further a good rule of thumb for lower joint pain would be any low impact exercise for example swimming or a recumbent bike. 

    4, Also if not already, getting treatment for her depression should be a priority.

    5, Looking at her diet would also be beneficial for obvious reasons.

    Hope this helps somewhat and I hope she feels better soon.
  • happyfellahappyfella Member Posts: 97 Courageous
    Sorry to hear about your mum. I suffer from chronic pain. I had an operation booked a couple of years ago but it was cancelled two days before. I was told at first they were worried about my weight, and said i would need to lose two stone so the operation would be safer. The trouble I have is I struggle to lose weight. I am in a catch 22 position. I cannot exercise due to my pain and i only eat one meal a day. I have been told because i am not eating enough that i am putting weight on and i need to eat more. I told the surgeon that i will lose two stone. But then he said it was just an excuse. He explained that even if i lost two stone it would make no difference as they were worried about losing me on the table due to having a slipped disc in my neck.

    I went to my GP for a second opinion which they arranged and the second opinion came back with the same as the first one. But, while i was waiting for the second opinion i asked my GP for help losing weight. He was rubbish. He gave me a diet sheet and said follow that, and that was it. I was shocked. I went to see another doctor about losing weight, as i am 22 stone and before my injury i was 17 stone. The other doctor said well we don't have anything in place for weight loss but i can send you to our diet nurse. So, i went to see the diet nurse who weighed more than me. I thought this was very strange. She gave me a diet sheet and listened to me but was not any help.

    A locum came to the surgery and by chance he phoned me on another matter. He put me on this new scheme to lose weight. I explained to him about the trouble i had about losing weight and the lack of support. He explained that doctors over a certain age don't really understand about losing weight and i am best always speaking to a younger doctor.

    I went on the scheme, had one zoom call and have heard nothing back, so i am going to chase them today.

    So, for help to lose weight, i would suggest finding a young doctor at your practice and speak to them about help. They have given me diet pills which i have not taken yet.
  • woodbinewoodbine Member Posts: 2,856 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm no medical expert but can perhaps understand why they would want her BMI under 40 before they would operate.
    One things does spring to mind as she is struggling has she looked into claiming PIP which can be paid even while she is working?
  • AbbieHAbbieH Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thank you John.  :)

    She was referred for surgery by her GP so I guess the weight-loss is the only option. At least we know for sure now. 

    She's had a phone call appointment with a dietitian and we're waiting for an appointment with the pain clinic, but this has been delayed due to the pandemic. I've also found some upper body exercise videos on YouTube you can do sitting down and we tried them but I think it's just the motivation and struggle at the moment, the pandemic certainly isn't helping. 

    Hoping when the pandemic is over she'll be able to regularly attend appointments with a dietitian and visit the pain clinic, I think it might just be a waiting game for this to be over. 

  • AbbieHAbbieH Member Posts: 4 Listener
    @woodbine thanks for your reply, she has had PIP before for her depression, which has now been taken off her again but is now applying again on the basis of her knee which will hopefully be approved. 
  • AbbieHAbbieH Member Posts: 4 Listener
    @happyfella thanks for your reply, I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, though you are the first person that I've heard from that is experiencing similar issues to my mum so I thank you for sharing. The younger doctor suggestion is really interesting, my mum's GP is very cynical and I don't like him to be honest, I personally switched to another surgery after he misdiagnosed a skin condition of mine so we're hoping she can switch over after the pandemic. I hope your new plan goes well!
  • Sandy_123Sandy_123 Member Posts: 286 Pioneering
    Hi @AbbieH sorry to read your mom's delema, maybe your mom could have physio to strengthen the muscles on the knee while you wait for gp, try a knee brace they can often be a good support. 
    I hope you get it sorted soon good luck.
  • happyfellahappyfella Member Posts: 97 Courageous
    AbbieH said:
    @happyfella thanks for your reply, I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, though you are the first person that I've heard from that is experiencing similar issues to my mum so I thank you for sharing. The younger doctor suggestion is really interesting, my mum's GP is very cynical and I don't like him to be honest, I personally switched to another surgery after he misdiagnosed a skin condition of mine so we're hoping she can switch over after the pandemic. I hope your new plan goes well!

    If i can find the name of the weight loss scheme then i will let you know. GPs are very reluctant to put people on it as it costs them. I only got on it through a younger doctor but at the moment it has not helped me because i have only had one zoom call.

    I use to go to the gym six days a week and now i cannot exercise so it does cause me problems. I would love to find a way to lose weight without putting myself in pain. If your mum is under a pain clinic then speak to them about it as well. They can then advise her and maybe get her on the scheme.
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