Monday, November 10, 2008

Feeling hip!

Two weeks ago today I had an open hip debridement on my right hip. At 31, I was about half the age of most of the other people having similar operations, but I guess that's not too surprising. Cam impingement and subsequent treatment seems to be a reasonably new area of medicine and as such the techniques are still being developed. (Given the nature of this blog, I thought CAM Impingement was quite an ironic pathology for me to have)

Nonetheless, the above will explain the lack of blog activity over the past while, and indeed may explain the (anticipated) blog over-activity in the next few weeks! Sometime in the New Year I will be getting the same debridement on my left hip, so you may suffer the same famine and feast again then.

As it turns out, the consultant is confident that the pain I was experiencing before the operation won't get any worse, but couldn't say whether it would be less, so in reality I'm faced with potentially having the same chronic pain I had before the operation, but with the strong hope that it won't deteriorate.

In a timely manner, Sense about Science has published their latest guide "I've got nothing to lose by trying it" (the document can be downloaded from the top right corner of the SAS page). For this guide, SAS has teamed up with a number of charities including Multiple Schlerosis Society and Alzheimer's Society to provide some education and awareness of how, as consumers, we need to be incredibly alert to quacks offering us hope of symptom relief, usually in return for cash. Needless to say, the quacks generally take the money and leave the pain.

I have written on a number of occasions about Artrosilium, the arthritis gel aimed at the 5 million or so Britons who have arthitis or similar diseases. Despite having been slapped by Advertising Standards Authority in May 2004 and making the MHRA hitlist for unregistered medical products in 2003 and so not allowed to be sold in the UK, the product was still being sold via the website at, until a complaint to the MHRA from this site had the website closed. The website has since reopened at but at least it does not bear the web address, which gave a false feeling of UK regulatory legitimacy.

Searching for this product in Google brings 50% of Thinking is Dangerous' traffic, which shows that more and more people are using the net to try and get hold of fantasy quack medicines that somehow will prove to be the elixir they dreamed of. (I recently wrote a short piece for Sense About Science's Evidence-Based Medicine Matters project, along the same lines, and found myself (slightly embarrassingly) in very esteemed company!)

This is not to say that the purchasers of these products are stupid or uneducated, but more that when faced with chronic pain with no respite, people buy the dream, and don't give much thought to the evidence. The flipside of this is that there is a pretty penny or two to be made preying on these people, and this is where the unscrupulous quacks and marketeers are ready to pounce, pretending to be by your side offering you the solution, when in reality they are preying on your belief and hope of a so far impossible remedy.

The SAS guide is written to help people recognise quack treatments and is mainly concerned with neurological conditions, although it would have been great to see arthritis (rheumatoid & osteo) in there as well, as many of the same issues are experienced by arthrites. The BBC website has a brief video clip of arthritis/ME sufferer Daniella Muallem and her experience of quack remedies, which imparts rather well the importance of evidence-based medicine, as well as how non-conventional medicine can be purely an excercise in wallet-lightening.

So, as I sit here and recouperate, I'll mull over the fact that there is less cam impingement in my hip, and hopefully less CAM impingement in patient healthcare in general.


  1. Iain Chalmers? You've contributed to the same webpage as Sir Iain Chalmers? Cool!

  2. Unfortunately the "it may make the pain better... or not" line is true for a lot of ortho stuff, most notably for back surgery for chronic back pain. It is probably a good sign that the consultant levelled with you, though.

    Incidentally, Prof David Colquhoun has two replacement hips, I'm pretty sure. so you're in esteemed bad science company for hip surgery...

    Anyway, all the best for a speedy recovery, and keep on blogging.

  3. Get well soon! Anecdotally I hear that blogging is a great analgesic.

  4. Thanks everyone for your kind words!

    JDC - don't quite know how it happened, but I guess these things happen. I have a feeling that Sir Iain is nowhere near as chuffed :)

    DrA & Neuroskeptic, not sure about analgesia, but it certainly helps to keep boredom at bay!