In recent years Irish patients have been harmed with Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP) implants contain industrial grade silicone and by faulty DePuy ASR hip implants. Approximately 3,500 patients in Ireland have been thrown into massive turmoil as a result of defective hips such as the DePuy hip. These metal-on-metal hips were put into patients as it was believed they allowed for greater mobility and longevity.
It turned out that these hips began to fail and tragically these metal-on-metal devices started to shred and entered the bloodstream, damaging bone, nerves and tissue. Other symptoms of a failing hip include
- Unexplained hip pain, thigh pain or groin pain – especially when carrying heavy items
- Pain and inflammation around the hip area
- Clicking, popping or grinding sounds coming from implant
- Pain when walking or rising from a seated position
- The development of cysts due to cobalt poisoning
Now just in case you think I am turning into an orthopaedic doctor you might think what’s this go to do with psychology? A lot, let Anne explain she came to my clinic last year with crippling levels of clinical anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Dr. Eddie she tearfully said “At the time (2006) I was a fit and healthy, my children were 10 and 18, I walked the dog daily and worked part time 4 mornings a week. I was told that these hips were the ‘Rolls Royce’ ideal for me because I was a very active person. About 3 years later the symptoms started, I had terrible pain and was unable to sleep. Truthfully as I walked my hip was clinking and clunking. If I got up from a seated position my hip locked. I was in extreme pain. My bloods were checked for chromium and cobalt, there were elevated. I tried to keep going but because of the pain I had to give up work. In 2011, I had a total hip replacement. I was told that the DuPey hip would last 25 years.’ I returned to work faster after surgery, I had to in order to pay the mortgage and third level fees.”
The psychological legacy when surgery such as PIP or DuPey hip implant goes wrong can be catastrophic for the individual. Common psychological conditions may include
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Clinical Depression
- Health Anxiety
- Body Dyspmorphia
- Panic Attacks
Psychological Impact Permeates All Areas of Individuals Life
On top of this the individual quality of life is severely impacted as pain and fear permeate all areas of a person’s life, social, sexual, work, activities, leisure, sporting, and family life such that other psychological issues often emerge including lowering self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth and trust issues with health professionals.
The Unrecognised Human Cost
It’s often not talked about in Irish society but anxiety, chronic pain and low mood all impact on key relationships and intimacy. This can be a tragedy for a couple as they move from intimacy to companionship forced by external circumstance i.e. faulty implants.
This is often under recognised and minimised. Anne has been left with chronic health issues including continuous pain walking, standing, sitting and lying down. Severe anxiety about the metal ions and the possible long-term damage which they may occur to my vital organs, including liver, kidneys, spleen and heart, including fears of cancer associated with this.
For many they have the DuPey hip in place and describe it like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. People have levels of anxiety that are in the clinical range with constant worrying over toxicity in the bloodstream potential damage to vital organs, The fear is like an overhanging cloud that will not go away as the future is unknown. For others they have to face revision surgery. The problem is that this invasive surgery is more challenging than the original as patients are compromised losing more bone, muscle and tissue with subsequent higher risks of complications e.g. limp and chronic pain. Regardless pain and suffering is the tragic outcome associated with the surgery and the rehabilitation period.
From a psychological perspective all this represents a major loss for the individual as they move from health towards potential unknown illness. Individuals with chronic pain need to learn new skills too often they do too much when they have a ‘good day’ and this is followed by lengthy ‘bad day’ periods. The challenge is to lean pacing and goal setting – doing little by little, restraining yourself when you are on a good day so you have less bad days, in effect it’s about energy management. This is the same lesson for those with many chronic illnesses.
The bottom line is that individuals went in for surgery wishing that this was going to be an ‘episode’ of care that they would have done and then leave behind. What turned out was that with faulty implant surgery this ‘episode’ of care moved into a chronic phase that is lifelong and has very serious psychological impacts on individuals’ quality of life in a profoundly negative way.
If you have been psychological impacted by implant surgery email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a factsheet with supportive advice to address arising psychological issues.