Hornchurch hairdresser pain-free and creating dream looks for brides

A Hornchurch hairdresser who was left in agony by osteoarthritis is back making brides’ dreams come true – including her own daughter’s.

Susan Allen, who has been a hairdresser from the age of 16, was left in tears by the burning pain caused by the osteoarthritis in both knees. She feared she would have to give up her profession and caring for her grandchildren while their parents were at work.

She said: “It started when I fell over as I was walking to the supermarket. The pain just got worse. On a city break to Amsterdam, the cobbles aggravated the problem and the pain got so bad I couldn’t walk. When we got home I had to buy a walking stick.”

The pain continued to worsen and tests revealed osteoarthritis was destroying her knee joints. The only option was to replace them.

Mrs Allen researched hospitals that could help; when her GP said he would refer her, she asked to go to Practice Plus Group Hospital, Ilford (formally North East London NHS Treatment Centre), which has an average waiting time of six weeks.

She said: “It was wonderful. The operation was carried out under a spinal block and I was awake throughout but pain-free; I don’t remember anything about it. The technique stops all the negative side effects of general anaesthetics like feeling groggy and nauseous, which was wonderful.

“Everyone was so helpful and kind. The food was wonderful – and I am very fussy – and the centre was very clean, so when the time came for my second knee to be replaced, I was very happy to go back to the centre.”

The operations were a success and Mrs Allen is pain-free. She said: “I am able to play with my grandchildren and take them to and from school. I am still working with some devoted hairdressing clients and I love creating romantic styles for brides. My daughter gets married in 2019 and I’m very excited and looking forward to helping her get ready for her big day. Now I can do all that pain -free.”

Orthopaedic consultant and clinical lead at the centre Nurul Ahad said: “The pain of bone rubbing on bone as joints wear away is excruciating, and often people have to rely too heavily on pain killers.

“There is no need to suffer and patients have choices. Any NHS patient, who needs the operation, can look at hospitals’ waiting lists and patient reviews and ask their GP to be referred to the hospital of their choice.

“Joint replacements, especially when carried out with a spinal injection, are safe, convenient and can see patients returning within a few days to their families and recovering happily and comfortably.”