Back in April I travelled up to see a hip specialist at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore. For several years now, I’ve had ongoing pain in my left hip. My left leg is longer by about 15cm to my right and is stronger – it bears more of my weight when I stand. Physio (including acupuncture), deep tissue massage and Pilates exercises targeting the pain haven’t provided long term relief. It’s not as though it’s unbearable pain, but it holds me back, and it’s emotionally wearing. It hurts more at night when I am in bed, regardless of which side I lie.
In desperation, I eventually sought a referral to the RNOH. My GP was supportive and whilst waiting for the appointment, I was prescribed Amitriptyline. Amitriptyline is more commonly used to treat depression, but can work effectively in a lower dose to help combat nerve pain. I’m dead set against long term regular medication, but sometimes one has to accept that it’s the only way to resolve a problem. 10mg works wonders in keeping the pain at a level that enables me to sleep right through the night, but one of the side effects of Amitriptyline is that it makes you feel very drowsy.
On 13th April, I travelled to RNOH and upon registering was told to report to x-ray. My hips were x-rayed and I then waited to see the consultant. Eventually my name was called and I walked into a room with three men – and my rather unique but identifiable hips on the x-ray viewing screen.
The consultant asked if I minded having his registrar and a colleague in with us, which I agreed to. He pointed out that I have no hip joints – no typical “ball and socket”, but my shortened femurs are instead attached much higher up the sides of my pelvis (he estimated about 6cm higher) and are attached by nothing more than muscle, tendons and flesh. He told me that it was “remarkable” that I was able to walk at all, and on assessing the range of my hip flexion was further impressed!
He told me what I was kind of expecting – that the very localised source os my pain wasn’t coming from the area of my femur, but was more likely to either be muscles that were working too hard or neuralgic pain – sciatic nerve being compressed by my lower spine. He decided that the next stage of the investigation should be a details (MRI) scan of my hips and lower spine to see what was going on and assess whether there was any deterioration or compression in my spine likely to be the cause of all of this.
Strangely enough, almost immediately my pain seemed to lessen. Almost as though knowing that I am closer to finding out the source of it, it’s quietly ebbing away. Of course it’s not, but I’m happy in the knowledge that I can lay off any vigorous exercise until I know exactly what bits of my body I need to concentrate on and which muscles need to be given a bit of a rest!
Hoping in time that I’ll get a copy of the scan so that I can spend time studying it in detail, but in the meantime….
(In case you can’t work it out, mine are the hips on the right!)