Are increasing waiting times damaging your knee?
As waiting times increase, the additional delay caused by the requirement to lose weight may be damaging outcomes for NHS patients.
Most of us put off going to the doctor. Whatever the issue, whatever part of the body, self-treatment and a ‘wait and see if it clears up’ attitude inevitably add days, weeks and occasionally months to the point at which people seek medical help.
Knee pain is no different. So the chances are that by the time a patient visits their GP complaining of knee pain, they will have been living with it for quite some time.
Starting the clock
The journey to knee surgery can be a fairly prolonged one. Overcoming anxiety about phrases such as ‘knee replacement’ can add to that delay. And inevitable delays in NHS treatment compound the wait still further.
Currently, the wait time between GP referral for a knee operation and the operation itself is 19 weeks in Harrogate, the base for much of Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s work.
That isn’t ideal. Swift diagnosis has been shown to benefit recovery times and the completeness of that recovery. Prolonged delay can not only extend a recovery period, it can reduce the ultimate success of the operation.
That’s why the approach to obesity of some NHS clinical commissioning groups could prove counterproductive. There’s no doubt that weight can add to wear of the knee. It can also increase the risk of complications during an operation.
But requiring prospective patients to cut their BMI or shed 15% of their weight effectively consigns them to six months’ additional delay. During that period, it is likely the ongoing damage to the knee – and damage to the potential outcome – will be greater than the benefit offered by losing a few pounds.
For some, private treatment at facilities such as Yorkshire Knee Clinic becomes the only viable option for swift treatment. For others without the luxury of that choice, there is a very real danger that the decisions of some areas of the NHS could be making the situation for chronic knee pain sufferers worse.
If you are on a long waiting list to have your knee pain diagnosed, talk to Yorkshire Knee Clinic.