Friday, August 7, 2015

You learn something new every day

Subtitle: My pain threshold is a lot lower than I thought.

Did you know you can get bursitis in almost any joint in your body? I always thought of bursitis as being a shoulder thing, although I guess I also knew that you can get it in an elbow. Turns out it can also hit you in the hips, knees, and other joints. It also happens that women are more likely than men to acquire hip bursitis due to having wider hips than men, although why that should be seen as a factor puzzles me. And, not surprisingly, it tends to hit more often as you age. Yet another reason, I guess, to doubt the truth of the adage that getting old beats the alternative.

I got to learn all this up close and personal after making the mistake of moving several heavy boxes of books at the museum a few days ago. I was worried about screwing up my back so was super careful to lift with my knees, just the way I was taught to long long ago when I was a minimum wage peon laboring at a rather physical job. Unfortunately, because I'm not as limber as I once was, lifting the right way simply meant I messed up a different part of my increasingly decrepit body.

Having a real pain in the ass was a strange experience. I've been called a pain in the ass more than a few times, but I'd never actually had the real thing before. My first thought, naturally, was that it was the hip joint that was messed up (i.e., arthritis). Fortunately, no, just an inflamed bursa. Bursitis is acute but fixable; arthritis is chronic and makes your life wretched indefinitely.

I changed primary care providers about a year ago. I decided to switch to seeing a geriatrician, and I think I found a good one. She takes the time to actually talk, she pays attention to what I'm saying, and she does a good job of explaining stuff. She also is willing to admit her limitations. After telling me I had classic trochanteric bursitis, she referred me to the orthopedic clinic for a steroid injection. She said she could do the injection herself but would rather not -- the last time she'd done that type of injection was back in med school. I have known a lot of doctors who think they can do everything; it's nice to deal with one doesn't think she has to.

The injection was an interesting experience in itself. The physician's assistant brought in a syringe that had a point on it that looked to be about the size of a railroad spike. You know it's a large gauge point when the site gets prepped first with a topical numbing agent and then with a local anesthetic before the Giant Needle gets plunged into your body. But it worked. The P.A. said it could take up to 48 hours for the steroid to affect the inflammation causing the pain; it was actually less than a day. It's possible that if I'd just been willing to go through another day or two of sleepless nights and eating ibuprofen like candy the bursitis would have faded away on its own. I don't know. Four nights of tossing and turning and fantasizing about black market opiates was more than enough for me.

I asked the P.A. just how common this type of bursitis is. She said she sees a couple cases every week, which explains why she was so good with that needle. Trochanteric bursitis is apparently incredibly common, which makes me wonder a bit why I'd never heard anyone complaining about having it. I guess it must come down to most people being unwilling to admit publicly they're suffering from a pain in the ass.


  1. having a good Dr is key..I love Dr cujo..I loved Dr Eisma but he never really tried to lower my blood pressure..just sort of said well try this..Dr Cujo got on google and googled every pill out there..pills that I had tried most of them and didn't work..he kept at it.and for the first time in over 30 years I have manageable blood pressure..he worked with me on my diabetes.I've lost 10 pounds and was able to eliminate one of my diabetic I love my Cujo.
    I am lucky with all my back problems and leg problems I have never had bursitis.but I heard it hurts like a mother glad you have som relief.

  2. "I guess it must come down to most people being unwilling to admit publicly they're suffering from a pain in the ass."
    I dunno. I think my wife tells people that all the time


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