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Schoen Clinic Orthopaedic and Spinal Hospital London | 12.35 hrs. - 11.08.2021

“I was worried I'd need surgery, but Schoen Clinic London provided the solution without me having to go under the knife.”

There are many types of injuries that can be sustained during sport. If an injury does occur, surgical intervention isn't always the right answer and in many cases, conservative methods of treatment can be exactly what's needed to resolve a problem. When Terry began to experience pain in both his foot and his knee following physical activities, he found that the conservative treatment plan prescribed by Dr Julian Widdowson was just what he needed to get him back to pain free sport again.

Sport has always been an integral part of my life. As a teenager I was football mad. At 16, I left school and signed as an apprentice professional and then full professional for Southend United F.C. on my eighteenth birthday. I experienced the usual injuries that go hand-in-hand with playing professional football, but nothing that impacted my life too much. Eventually, my footballing career wound down and I began a whole new chapter working in banking and finance. Working and living in London gave me the opportunity to play a lot of sport in the evenings and on weekends, which was still really important to me as it allowed me to blow off steam outside of the busy trading floor. 

It was much later in life – in fact 40 years after first signing with Southend United F.C. – when my problems began. In early 2019, I played a competitive game of squash one evening where we battled away in numerous long rallies. The following morning, I felt a pain on the inside of my ankle, which was rather odd. Stranger still was the feeling behind my right kneecap like someone had inflated it with a bicycle pump. I tentatively played again the following week but the same thing happened. I was starting to be concerned; this was impacting my life so I thought I'd better go and have it looked at. 

I had scans of my knee and ankle but the doctor that read them couldn't see anything untoward and told me to take painkillers and rest. The next time I played, my ankle was worse. I went back to the doctor who told me again to take painkillers but this time, stop playing sport altogether. 

This was a massive blow to me as someone who relies on sport and exercise to live a happy life. As it was summer, I was able to walk and attempt a few tentative runs, however the pain continued to worsen. I was starting to think my ankle was fractured because of the sheer amount of pain I was in. When I changed jobs in September my medical insurance changed too, so I looked up a knee specialist in London. I went to see renowned knee surgeon, Mr Sam Rajaratnam at Schoen Clinic London, who told me that thankfully, surgery wasn't the solution and that he would refer me to his colleague Dr Julian Widdowson, Consultant in Sports and Exercise Medicine.

At our first meeting, I brought the scans in to show Julian and he pointed to a black mass with a white fork on top – a stress fracture, as I had suspected. For some reason, it wasn't picked up on the first scan (perhaps it was too small at that time) but it was definitely there now. Julian said that I have particularly flat feet and every time I landed when playing sport, or twisted and turned, my right foot was turning in slightly causing the structures to my knee to weaken. It's a natural movement for me but my body had had enough and that's what caused the fracture.

Julian fitted me with an air boot and told me to wear it for three months. After the three months, I went back to Schoen Clinic London and had another scan. It was still sore but Julian told me it was healing, albeit slowly. He told me to carry on in the boot for a while to see whether my progress continues. 

Christmas and New Year came and went and I went back to Julian believing it wasn't healing. He assured me it was and asked me to try for another fortnight as we were at a crucial turning point in its recovery. After that fortnight I had another scan and sure enough, it was getting better. Julian then told me about my options on how to prevent further injury; he didn't recommend surgery or any pain relief or steroids injections. 

Instead, he thought I'd benefit most from seeing a Podiatrist, who really helped me with my gait and exercises to straighten my foot. They also fitted me for custom-made orthotics to go in my shoes to correct the position of my feet. Julian recommended that I start training in a specific pair of trainers, fitted with my new orthotics. However, as my feet were now in this new corrected position, I felt like I was going to fall over all the time! But slowly, my legs got used to this new way of walking and the pain magically subsided. 

Around 10 months after first meeting Julian, I can now run pain-free which is pretty amazing. I am really grateful that I found Julian, as a fellow football fan we had plenty to chat about at consultations! But more than that, he explained everything to me in layman's terms, never pressured me into making a decision I didn't want to and encouraged me the whole way. I didn't think that I would play sport again, or enjoy the beautiful landscape here in the West Country, but thanks to Julian, I'm doing just that.

- Terry

Dr Julian Widdowson is a Consultant specialising in Sports & Exercise Medicine at Schoen Clinic London. You can use your health insurance or simply pay-as-you-go for first class treatment with us. Just call 0203 929 1086 or email selfpayenquiries@schoen-clinic.co.uk