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Margaret McCartney: When can I get back to running after my operation?

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 02 October 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j4299

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One way to find out... Re: Margaret McCartney: When can I get back to running after my operation?

Your dilemma echos many others in medicine. It is yet another example of the fine line between science, psychology, art and alchemy that truly defines 21st Century healthcare, much as it has for the last 150 years.

What you are describing is the reality - there is no 'scientific', EBM answer to your question, just 'expert opinion'. And of course, experts being human and opinions being, well, opinions, every one will be slightly different. Some experts will be hip, with the times, and all for getting moving at the first opportunity. Others will be cautious, and delay as much as much as possible, perhaps to avoid risk of undoing any possible benefit to the patient, or maybe they are protective of their work or worried about (operative) failure.

Margaret, you have waxed lyrical about realistic medicine, and the negative impacts of unrealistic expectations from patients and professionals alike when the reality is we know only the tip of the iceberg.

Call me a heretic, a maverick or just a lunatic, but my answer to your question, as a non-specialist, but an expert in being human goes something like: 'There is no straight answer, only opinion. No-one knows for sure if this will work for you, or how long it will take you to recover. Every person is different and will heal differently, every operation is different. Recovery will depend a lot on your frame of mind, determination, and expectations. You should start off slowly, build-up gradually, but the real answer is - there is only one way to find out...'

Competing interests: No competing interests

03 October 2017
Cathy J Welch
Arran Medical Group
Arran Medical Group, Isle of Arran