My leg is lying to me!! Welcome to referred pain.

It took two Physios to diagnose hip OA. The first one got halfway there and diagnosed a tight hip capsule. You know you're old when you're hurting from places you'd never heard of before. I half-believed him. He clearly demonstrated how tight and weak my hip was, but explained intense thigh, knee and shin pain as having the same cause. I just didn't buy it. There HAD to be more going on, and I got that upsetting feeling when you feel your clinician isn't quite up to it.

The second one gave my leg and knee a thorough prodding and could get no pain response at all. He confirmed a tight hip capsule then dropped the life-changing bombshell - what was causing the tight hip capsule was hip OA. Oh ****.

He then went on to explain the phenomenon of referred pain, and showed me an online diagram that highlighted the exact areas I was hurting in. As a retired hypnotherapist I know how your perception can lie to you, but was now made to realize this extends to the realm of pain. The excruciating pain in my knee, thigh and shin was actually my hip hacking into the nerves they're connected to.

It is an experience both weird and unpleasant in equal proportion, and I'm interested to hear of similar experiences.

Comments

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 994

    Yup, pre-diagnosis I had random pains down my left leg for a year or two, a mild but painless limpt, and I noticed rapidly reducing mobility in my hip during pilates. My physio, who I still trust btw, put me on the trapped nerve/trochanter bursitis path as well, but she did suspect there was some arthritis going on and wrote to my GP recommending an xray. My GP declined on the basis that if it was just a bit of wear and tear for which there was no treatment anyway.

    Eventually I tripped over one day and landed on my bum, which dislodged the last remaining bit of cartilage in the hip joint which floated around creating mayhem and total agony and I could hardly move my hip at all. The doc finally agreed to xray, by which time the underlying damage was so bad they put me straight on the list for replacement. The pain continued getting worse so badly that they xrayed me again two weeks later, thinking I must have fractured something, but it was just the free-wheeling cartilage having a party. Had they xrayed me when my physio first suggested, they would have picked up the wrecked hip much sooner, and may have put me on the list for replacement much earlier. Instead, immediately after diagnosis and referal, then came the pandemic.....

    Over the year that followed the referred pain was worse than the joint pain at times. The worst was a burning pain down my shin and random sharp stabbing pains behind my knee cap, along with a general nerve pain from hip to heel down the outside of my leg. These frequently occurred when sitting stock still or lying in bed. This was in addition to the violent "electric shock" pains in the joint itself and groin if I had the audacity to move. Once the cartilage had gone off to sulk in a corner after about 3 months, things settled down a little and I was able to resume work, coinciding with the end of the first lockdown. But this just resulted in the now bone-on-bone joint wearing away even faster, so that by the end of the year I was back to being almost unable to work, or walk frankly, with a vile grinding sensation in my hip as well as direct and referred pains.

    I found pain management techniques really helpful, along with prescription drugs of course. I've posted a link on another of your threads you may find helpful. If you can find ways to mentally distance yourself from the pain, that really worked for me, particularly if I got a sudden random stabbing referred pain. I just breathed through it, relaxed and tried to ignore it till it passed and that often did work. It's harder for the more constant grinding pain, and that just takes drugs, rest, walking aids, modifying activities and sheer bloody minded grit and determination at times. When it gets that bad, make sure you schedule in recovery time. If I had a busy day coming up, I would make sure the next few days were quieter to recharge my battery.

    I won't sugar coat it, arthritis is awful, don't let anyone fob you off with the old "it's just wear and tear" or "just part of getting old". Not everyone over 60 has this. Some of them are still climbing mountains in their 80s, so that argument doesn't wash with me. (My 93 year old neighbour still plays golf and until a few years ago still went out on his road bike, had skiing holidays and enjoyed a spot of wind surfing.) It's a condition that is to be taken seriously and most importantly, managed and treated. Self- advocate as much as you can with your medic team. You're going to need them on your side.

  • Damned69
    Damned69 Member Posts: 18

    Wow you've had a rougher ride than me! When the pain started, and as soon as lockdown restrictions eased, I decided to "cut out the middle man" and went straight to the Physio. Your story confirms how right I was! So I'm already on an exercise regime to at least reduce the speed of decline. The Physio has now sent a letter to the GP with his diagnosis. After a couple of weeks I will nag the doctor for an X-Ray because having a formal medical diagnosis gives me more options.

    I also agree that it is not a given symptom of ageing - I am sedentary and overweight but I've no doubt that the biggest factor is genetics.

    I was glad to hear your story and to know that other people have referred pain and it's a blessing to be able to interact with people who understand. Thank you.

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,079

    There are many causes of osteoarthritis as the above link shows. Genetics is one cause but not the main one. Mine was caused by my rheumatoid arthritis. Genetics plays a bigger part there.

    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • Licklelilly
    Licklelilly Member Posts: 11

    Hello @Damned69 and @Lilymary ,

    Today is the 9th day after THR op and my operated hip feels barely any pain, except when I stand one-legged bearing all my weight on it. I'd dispose of my crutches if it wasn't for my knee, it's agony, so I'm still hopping a long on crutches! Hopefully, exercises, buttock clenching, and tiptoeing will help in time.

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 994

    @Licklelilly , it’s way too early to be standing on one leg or ditching the crutches “just because you can”. The new joint still has to bed in, and the muscles need to recover much more to support the joint. They’re not there for pain relief, they’re necessary to protect the hip while it recovers from the assault by your surgeon.

  • Licklelilly
    Licklelilly Member Posts: 11

    Thanks @Lilymary

    I'll take what you say on board! Why didn't the hospital tell me this...or maybe they did and I didn't hear them!

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 994

    @Licklelilly , they usually say crutches for 6 weeks for posterior THR. While the soft tissue disturbance is possibly less for minimally invasive surgery, the bone damage is the same, and your muscles still have to recover to support it. They say 80% of the healing takes place in the first 6 weeks, hence the 6 week rule. I’ve heard of builders who felt so good after 2 weeks they ditched the crutches and went back to work, and were quickly back in hospital having their new hip redone,

    Sorry to hijack your thread @Damned69

  • Damned69
    Damned69 Member Posts: 18

    Haha no worries, all information useful :D

  • Licklelilly
    Licklelilly Member Posts: 11

    Cripes @Licklelilly !!! That's a scary story about the builders! Slow and steady I shall go from now on. Today, on day 12 I have to go and get stitches removed, I'm worried, albeit irrationally because up to now everything seems to have gone well. Now I'm imagining the worse. Doesn't help that a few insects chose to dine on me, feeling itchy and jittery from bite boils on my back and left side. Partner smothered these with hydrocortisone and dosed me with allergy tablets, so at least I got a couple of hours sleep last night. What a hot night it was, I expect many didn't sleep well!

  • Licklelilly
    Licklelilly Member Posts: 11

    Whoops....obviously hadn't woken up properly as I tagged myself in the above post!🙄Meant to tag @Lilymary

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