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To feel my Dr dismissed my symptoms as I'm overweight

(104 Posts)
Womby Sat 31-Jan-15 08:03:36

I am a 50+ woman who is 4 stone overweight.

I have been suffering for painful legs when walking for about a year - pain in calf muscles, acute stiffness after sitting or sleeping (think 90 year old woman), grinding knee joints (which others can hear when I'm walking) etc. I have been tested for PAD (peripheral arterial disease) and that has been ruled out so I have been thinking it could be Osteoarthritis in my knees as all the symptoms check out and this runs in my family.

I went to a long awaited GPs appointment yesterday (I had waited a month) and had written out a list of my symptoms to save time - he glanced at them and said 'it won't be your knees - it's your weight'. I told him I knew I was overweight and I am addressing that (2 stone so far on Slimming World) but that I am in pain all the day when I'm walking and it is really hampering my life and I'm taking Ibuprofen like sweets as they are the only thing that helps.

He still dismissed what I was saying and refused to examine me. I was very polite but asked if I was supposed to suffer in pain and that I had even been in pain walking from the car park to to the surgery (very close) to emphasise the point. Expecting him to at least suggest strong prescription pain killers or cortisone injections or something but he just said 'take Paracetamol' . I told him that Paracetamol had no affect whatsoever and Ibuprofen were the only thing that takes the edge off but I was worried about stomach bleeding etc which can happen with high use of those.

He just looked at me and smiled and said, 'we've ruled out PAD which can be a dangerous condition so I'm afraid this is down to your weight and I know it's hard but you need to lose weight' - I told him I was doing S.W. but progress is now very slow as I can't walk! He still kept his stance and refused to examine my legs/knees.

At this point I just said, well I'd better leave and made for the door. He walked after me and said 'you haven't got varicose veins have you?' - I said no I hadn't but he then lifted my skirt up at the back to check the back of my knees (my hand was on the door handle ready to leave at the time). I thought to myself if you'd checked my legs properly on the couch you could have checked for that.

I got outside the surgery and managed to drive home but then just burst into tears and I keep welling up and crying again when I think about it.

I feel totally dismissed because I have a weight issue and like I wasn't worth examining as whatever I'm suffering must be my fault anyway. I am under no illusion that weight has an obvious impact on joints and I'm trying my best to address that but I could also have other underlying issues and he's refused to look into that.

I think I will now have to change Drs as I have no faith in this Dr and he has upset me so badly I cannot face seeing him again. In the mean time I am no further forward and changing GPs will take time and I'm still in pain and can barely walk and it makes doing anything particularly my job (where I have to walk around a large site between buildings) difficult, slow and embarrassing.

Am I wrong to feel like this? Is this treatment fair?

Eastpoint Sat 31-Jan-15 08:06:59

Well done for losing 2 stone - that's hard.

I don't have any experience but I think this was inappropriate - he dismissed your concerns without examining you. Someone will know what to do ... They'll be along soon as this is the wonderful MN. brew

CrohnicallyCold Sat 31-Jan-15 08:10:22

On a practical note, I moved doctors and had my first appointment with them within 2 weeks- I made the appointment on the day I handed in the paperwork to change over, so moving doctors may not take too much time. Or would you be able to see a different GP in the same practice?

Please put in a complaint about this GP. It's bad enough that he didn't listen to you or consider an alternative cause of your symptoms. But lifting your skirt without actually asking permission to is seriously awful behaviour.

DecaffCoffeeAndRollupsPlease Sat 31-Jan-15 08:10:52

It sounds deeply unpleasant to me, especially your skirt being lifted as you exited the room - how invasive. I would have cried too. Book yourself in to see another Dr. They aren't all like that.

Kundry Sat 31-Jan-15 08:12:07

Unfortunately it's likely that this is a form of osteoarthritis - and the best treatment for this will be for you to lose weight. About 90% of weight loss comes from diet rather than exercise so it shouldn't be lack of this that holds you back.

Your GP will be unwilling to give prescription painkillers as they don't work brilliantly, have side effects and in the codeine family are addictive. Surgery also has much worse outcomes if you are overweight - they won't want to do it unless it's completely unavoidable.

SunshinePickle Sat 31-Jan-15 08:12:10

Change doctors, he's obviously a bit of an arse.

You've done amazingly to lose 2st. It's so hard to be in pain & to lose weight without exercising. See another doctor & hopefully they'll give you a stomach protector like omeprazole to go with some ibuprofen.

Have you tried swimming or water aerobics? It takes the pressure off your joints so might give you a bit of relief? I'm a rubbish swimmer but find bobbing around in the swimming pool really helps when my joints are bad.

TheHappinessTrap Sat 31-Jan-15 08:13:52

I think that if you feel dismissed because of your weight then he didn't do his job properly. It sounds like he has a prejudice. How awful for you. Is it hard To move gps where you are?

GirlsonFilm Sat 31-Jan-15 08:17:24

Re changing drs you can register and make an appointment the same day so it shouldn't take long.

However if it is osteoarthritis the advice will be to lose weight and take paracetamol or another painkiller I'm afraid.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Sat 31-Jan-15 08:21:13

Well, he's a doctor and he could be right. My SIL is very overweight and has chronic pain because of it. She's spent the last 10 years in denial, going for MRI scans, blood tests, everything. She's perfectly healthy, just 4 stone overweight on a small 5'5" frame.

He sounded rude though. Good luck with your weight loss. Maybe consider Pilates or yoga to see if your posture and movements are also contributing to your pain.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Sat 31-Jan-15 08:21:23

The lifting your skirt sounds appalling. I think I'd complain about that at the very least.

chocolatemademefat Sat 31-Jan-15 08:21:59

I have this problem but my doctor is very sympathetic. You're doing great with your weight loss so I'd definitely go to another doctor.
My problem is I take prescription painkillers (tramadol, diclofenac) which only take the edge off. I am now addicted to the tramadol and am finding it really difficult to come off.
I hope you find a more sympathetic doctor but be careful what you take.
And can I just say I wish I had your willpower.

sebsmummy1 Sat 31-Jan-15 08:25:18

I'm afraid it does sound like your weight could be contributing to your pain and if ever there was an incentive to continue to lose weight, becoming pain free would be it.

Do you pay for your slimming world fees? My understanding is you can get them on prescription under certain circumstances so it might be worth looking into that and go back to the doctor and ask.

BalloonSlayer Sat 31-Jan-15 08:29:04

My stepfather had this with EVERY single physical complaint. A couple of years after he and my Mum broke up the GP put on a load of weight. My Mum said she was sooo tempted to say something like "Don't you think you ought to lose some weight" with a head tilt. grin

Idefix Sat 31-Jan-15 08:30:48

It's a one gp surgery only? If not I would book an appointment with another gp at the surgery, they may take a different perspective - give you more advice.
If the ibuprofen works take it with or after food and discuss with the gp being prescribed something like omeprazole that will protect your stomach.
Discuss with gp best way to manage pain using paracetamol and ibuprofen, sometime recommended to be taken alternately. If doing this regularly doesn't reduce the pain then a gp might suggest a different type of pain killer. But as others have said stronger painkillers come with long and short term side effects.
Well done on your weightloss so far, you will hopefully find the pain lesson as the pressure on your joints lighten.

Horseradishes Sat 31-Jan-15 08:33:43

My ExP is 40 and had the same issues. He saw a gp and paid to see a Osteo consultant privately, both said it was weight related and losing weight would help. He lost weight and it did help. Unfortunately that may not be tge answer you wanted to hear!

I say this as an overweight person, you have my sympathy.

anothernumberone Sat 31-Jan-15 08:49:48

2 things, 1. your doctor should have examined you although is it possible that anything he could have determined during a physical exam was ruled out during the PAD tests? He should have been more empathetic too I would definitely consider a change.

2. The weight is a likely to play a huge part of your pain and your problem no matter what the diagnosis. Well done on the 2 stone you are doing amazing and don't get disheartened now because it will make a difference. Swimming should make a difference or walking through water if you can't swim. My mother has recently had surgery because her cartilidge sp? is completely gone in her knee. It was total agony to walk as there was bone on bone, but she could walk in a swimming pool. It made a big difference. She cannot swim.

PtolemysNeedle Sat 31-Jan-15 08:50:05

You are upset because you went into the surgery fixated on the idea that the doctor should automatically ask you to get on the couch and look at your legs, and that didn't happen.

But the doctor is the one who's qualified here, and if he didn't believe there was anything to be gained from looking at your legs, then why would he do it?

He did give you the best answer of what is most likely to help, even if you do have osteoarthritis. It's just not the one you wanted to hear.

PowderMum Sat 31-Jan-15 08:56:05

I'm overweight and have had very painful knees but I know that these are weight and diet related. I have been off my painkillers and on the lighter life diet since the beginning if the month, I am a stone lighter and already they are much better.
I believe my doctor and can put this down to my weight as my other 2 conditions/issues don't improve with weight loss and a change in diet.

Having said all this my doctor was much much more sympathetic than yours.

DropYourSword Sat 31-Jan-15 08:59:13

I do think it was very rude and quite arrogant of the doctor not to even examine you, just in case there was some other underlying issue.

But unfortunately it does sound like being overweight is very much the most likely has cause, which you need to, and have already started to, address first. If you get to target weight and still have issues, that's the point you investigate further. Like a pp said, it's entirely possible to lose weight without exercise, so try your hardest not to use the pain as an excuse for not losing weight.

Nomama Sat 31-Jan-15 09:01:37

Yup! He told you something you didn't want to hear... you are overweight, that is flattening the synovial capsule in your knees which is, in turn, causing the grinding feeling and pain.

He may have been rude, but from his perspective you were being obtuse. You have been examined, tested and nothing has been found, yet you are persisting in refusing to accept that it is your weight causing the problem and that there are no painkillers any GP would feel comfortable prescribing for you.

The good news is that continuing to lose weight will really help. So sod him, keep up with the SW and add little bits of exercise, upper body would be great for now, and soon you will feel far better, less pain and much more mobile.

The synovial capsule in your knees will respond as soon as the compression is lessened, so the pain will reduce as you lose weight.

Good luck.

museumum Sat 31-Jan-15 09:05:31

I've found gps to be very poor on the whole at musculoskeletal-skeletal issues. Tending to prescribe painkillers and rest or "keeping mobile" haha!
I would pay for a private Physio consultation if I were you. Just the fact that they really understand your movement and the origins of the pain can really help. They can advise on the appropriate use of heat and ice packs and on supports/strapping.
You won't get nhs Physio for your issues without gp referral but a private one will cost around £40. If you can afford it. If I need to go I skip a haircut.

Preciousbane Sat 31-Jan-15 09:10:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

a2011x Sat 31-Jan-15 09:14:46

Sorry but if you have ruled out anything sinister I happen to agree with him, GP's aren't the best at dealing with these matters sensitively but to a lot of GPs I work with they do find obesity serious and don't feel the need to sugar coat it. Well done on your loss so far and keep going! Good luck!

Babiecakes11 Sat 31-Jan-15 09:17:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BalloonSlayer Sat 31-Jan-15 09:22:26

Womby could it be your slimming world diet that is making things worse. I seem to remember my Mum trying to alter her diet to help arthritis - I think acid things like tomatoes are particularly bad for arthritis and I can imagine them featuring strongly on a slimming world approved list.

Please anyone blow me out of the water about this! I was just pondering how Womby could lose two stone and find the pain getting worse and wondered if it could be the diet.

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