Daily Trust (Abuja)

19 February 2013

Nigeria: Arthritis Can Be Effectively Treated

A team of doctors specialized in the treatment of the human brains and spine have described as untrue the notion that arthritis or spine problems cannot be treated in Nigeria.

Speaking at an event at the Lifebridge Diagnostic Centre Garki yesterday, the chairman of the group known as the Abuja Brain and Spine Group, Dr Biodun Ogungbo explained that most persons have that belief because in the past spine problems are not identified early.

According to him, "Patients are poorly investigated, poorly advised and poorly treated. This is often due to ignorance, poverty, poor facilities and lack of expertise. Poor quality of advice leads to bad decisions which can be costly in terms of money and more importantly, in the health of the patient."

The team include spine surgeons, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists and nurses.

Ogungbo added that spine problems are common in adults and doctors reckon about 1 in 10 people over the age of 50 have some symptoms and signs of arthritis in the neck.

He stressed that many fall victims to medical tourism to countries like India, Egypt and South Africa.

His words, "A few patients have returned from these countries with much more than they bargained for. Some have had the wrong operation, unnecessary procedures and treatments and others have significant, lingering and life-long complications."

Dr Ahidjo Kawu, speaking on whether spine problems can be treated in Nigeria said it can be effectively handled by doctors and physiotherapists in Nigeria.

He said, "The facility now exists at least in Abuja to educate, inform and manage patients with arthritis of the neck and spine satisfactorily. An MRI is available at the National Hospital, Abuja and this is of sufficient quality to show the problem in the spine. After the MRI scan patients can see a neurosurgeon for evaluation. The neurosurgeon determines what the problem is and how best to manage it.

"The management can be conservative: no operation. This entails medication and physiotherapy. The services of a trained physiotherapist are important. They can evaluate, assess and treat many spinal conditions to ameliorate the symptoms and improve the patients quality of life".

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