A caring husband who is increasing frustrated wih the NHS

StevieT Member Posts: 3
edited 24. May 2013, 16:32 in Say Hello Archive
My wife has had osteoarthritus for the past 20 years which she managed initially with pain killers and acapuncture - provided free when we were with the Army in Germany!

When we returned to the UK about 10 years ago we were referred to our local NHS Pain Clinic where we were advised that the best course of treatment was a sacroalic joint injection which would benefit my wife greatly and that she should have the treatment roughly every four months.

During the last ten years the time between injections has been at the least 6 months and at most (the most recent) 11 months. In between this she is expected to manage her own pain relief with the help of her doctor - tramadol and morphene patches.

I did submit a complaint about the delays in treatment (my wife will not make a fuss) and got as far as a meeting with the hospital nursing director (we were told that the consultant who treats my wife was unavailable due to urgent medical requirements but it transpired that he knew nothing about the meeting). In the end they confirmed in writing that my wife's treatment was provided in accordance with "patient need" - had they just admitted that they don't have the resources to provide more regular treatment I would have perhaps been more understanding.

The NHS Choices system is a joke and does not take into account patients requiring ongoing regular (sic) treatment.

Any ideas on how I can improve things for my wife or indeed shared experience would be most welcome.


  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello StevieT, it's nice to meet you and I can understand your frustration. Osteo arthritis is a condition where the patient is expected to manage with pain relief (and maybe anti-inflammatory tablets) until the situation is so bad that surgery is required. Of course the option of surgery is dependant on which joints are affected; I have OA in both ankles, both knees and my right hip but mine is due to the damage caused by my other arthritis psoriatic, an auto-immune type). I have another year or so to wait for the new knees.

    GPs are the ones who manage those with OA, although orthopaedic surgeons can become involved at a later stage if appropriate. The time-lapse between injections is frustrating, are they steroid ones? I know they have to be rationed because they cause other health problems. Which joints are causing your wife so much distress? DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • StevieT
    StevieT Member Posts: 3
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for the prompt response - on reflection I think it must be rheumatoid (I always get confused between to two!) as it is in her lower back and there is no operation to help with the symptoms.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello StevieT and welcome from me, too. From what you have written I think you were probably right first time and it’s OA that your wife has. RA attacks multiple joints. Like DD, I have both kinds. The auto-immune types, such as RA, are treated by rheumatologists, not GPs. Your wife would almost certainly have been taking DMARDS for years if she had RA or another auto-immune arthritis.

    I’m afraid, as DD said, OA is treated by GPs and they are limited in what they can prescribe. Exercises and pain relief both help and, as you have found, the GP can refer you to a Pain Clinic. As it’s 10 years since your wife attended one it might be worth another go as I’m sure quite a few improvements and refinements will have taken place in 10 years. Most people on here find them very helpful.

    Some of us (me included) love steroid injections as they make such a big difference but they do bring their own problems and I’ve never thought of them as a permanent, ongoing solution, just a temporary measure until either exercises or surgery improve things. Also, I’ve found that the more one has, the less they work. This might be why they are delaying your wife’s treatment.

    In her shoes I’d be asking for physio, another referral to a Pain Clinic and maybe a review of the pain relief.
    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,506
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi StevieT

    Sorry I am so late on to welcome you.

    In our area my ex MIl has these injections and has had varying gaps between them too, she tends to 'chase' them up as much as possible herself, but sometimes they have 'worked' for her for a lot longer than the 4 months.


    Toni xx
  • Philippa1961
    Philippa1961 Member Posts: 38
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi StevieT, as the others have already said OA is managed by pain relief ~ I take pain illers and anti inflamatories. A few years ago I was supposed to have a course of steroid injections in my right wrist but after the first one I refused the rest of the course as it made my wrist hurt more for a few days then the benefit wasn't worth the pain for a few days. I have been told that I will need a hip replacement but the doctor doesn't want to rush into that due to my age.