4th March 2024

International Women's Day 2024 - An interview with Dr Sarah Davies

On International Women’s Day 2024, the team at Contura Orthopaedics is keen to celebrate and profile the work and achievements of Dr Sarah Davies, Consultant in Musculoskeletal (MSK), Sport and Exercise Medicine and Founding Partner of Panacea Health. Dr Davies was also the first female MSK specialist in the UK to have used the innovative and novel treatment for knee osteoarthritis, Arthrosamid® for her patients suffering from this often-debilitating condition, in clinic at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health (ISEH).

Here, Dr Davies explains why she feels so passionately about adopting a holistic approach to treating all her patients, how she likes to explore and embrace new, ground-breaking treatments and why it’s so important to support and ‘raise up’ other female clinicians and colleagues:

Dr Sarah Davies

“My consultancy means that my week is very varied. I visit four different clinics including the Royal Ballet throughout the week with a variety of booking-types that make up my case load. I could be seeing a new client or reviewing and reassessing a patient I have previously met. I may be calling patients for ‘phone consultations or delivering bespoke treatments in person, such as injections or shockwave therapies. Invariably, no two days are the same and I feel fortunate to be working in such a stimulating and progressive field of medicine.
“Due to the diversity and demands of my case load, my clinic days must be well-prepared. My fantastic PA books my appointments and I always prepare thoroughly the day before, by looking through my previous notes, letters and any referrals. This means that I’ll always be fully up to speed on my patient’s reasons for coming to see me before they walk through the door. This is important to ensure that every patient feels considered and reassured there is enough focus on their individual concerns and needs.
“Essentially, in all of my clinics and practices, I can see any problem relating to the musculoskeletal system – so, as such, I get to see a vast array of presentations! Anything from neck pain and headaches to lower back pain and stiffness, hand and finger, hip, knee or toe pains. The most common injuries in our ‘sporting and movement’ communities are knee and shoulder and neck and lower back pains and I’ve always been committed to seeking out the most effective – yet least invasive treatments - for my patients suffering with such complaints.”

Dr Sarah Davies, can you talk through your professional ‘journey’ to becoming a Consultant in MSK Medicine?

“Well, my schoolteachers actually thought I was too creative to study Medicine and tried to dissuade me. Instead, they thought I should focus on music or drama, but I was fascinated by people and always knew that I wanted to find out about the human body and I was interested in many specialities as there is so much to learn about how the body systems work together.
However, I did end up studying for a postgraduate degree in Drama which encouraged me to experiment with movement and took me away from studying at my desk. This sparked an interest in helping people to move better (i.e. more efficiently and expertly) to optimise their individual biomechanics. So, I then embarked on physician’s training to enter specialist training in Sport and Exercise Medicine which I’m delighted to add has become a Specialty of the Royal College of Physicians to help create an ongoing legacy from the London 2012 Games!”

As we approach International Women’s Day 2024, can you share with us which women in medicine do you particularly admire?

“When looking back at the women who’ve been real ‘game changers’ in the history of medicine and our care profession, it’s hard not to start with Mary Seacole, who was a pioneering nurse and businesswoman in the 1800s.
“She identified a real need for improving the healthcare of soldiers in the Crimean war and single-mindedly rose to meet it, setting the benchmark for dedicated, patient-focused care for many future generations of female medics who followed her path.
“On a more personal level, as a medical student, I devoured the indispensable Kumar and Clark’s Clinical medicine textbook which was co-founded and edited by Prof Dame Parveen Kumar. She grew up in Lahore, then British India, now Pakistan and came to London to study Medicine. My mother also came to study from Karachi to Oxford to study (Maths), so their lives paralleled somewhat. Having the drive and determination to achieve and deliver, in male-dominated fields is brave and forthright and inspires me to keep trying and pushing for my patients to reap health benefits from my own drive for knowledge and learning.
“As a leader in your chosen field – particularly in the often male-dominated work of orthopaedics and MSK health – it’s just so important to champion your colleagues and I just love to encourage my juniors to speak out when they don’t understand and not to be afraid to ask questions. Fear is what holds us back. The more we learn from each other, the more we can help others.”

So, how important is to you, as a holistic practitioner, to advocate for non-invasive treatment options for osteoarthritis?

“Musculoskeletal surgery certainly has its place but is not always the answer. Surgery can’t give us a bionic capability or propel us up and down the stairs. There is a lot that each of us as individuals need to learn about our own body to push the limits of our capacity. We each need to push the boundaries of what we can achieve to know our limits. These limits stretch much further than we ever believe. Holistic musculoskeletal medicine can achieve great things and help an individual to push the boundaries of their capacity. Non-invasive treatments help (alongside physical and mental rehabilitation therapies) produce amazing outcomes. I see it in my patients and am amazed every day.”

In a nutshell – and as the first female MSK clinician in the UK to administer Arthrosamid to patients with knee OA – what do you think are the main benefits of using hydrogel injections?

“Well, in a nutshell so to speak, the patients that I’ve treated to date are reporting less pain and less stiffness. But, in addition to these clinical benefits which we know Arthrosamid® brings to many patients, I also observe less anxiety and frustration as they start to experience significant improvements to their quality of life and their ability to enjoy their preferred pastimes (whether that be golf, skiing, rambling or ballroom dancing) and the simple, everyday tasks we take for granted such as climbing the stairs, gardening and playing with the grandchildren.
“Clinical assessments and scans allow us as physicians to evaluate which patients will be an eligible and positive candidate for Arthrosamid® but as a self-professed “champion for holistic medicine” I believe a successful outcome can be determined by so much more than this, with self-motivation and self-belief also playing a key role. If you want a non-invasive treatment such as Arthrosamid® to work and are prepared to heed the advice of your physician and physio (which really can help to ‘build up’ supporting muscles around the knee joint) then I believe most patients have the potential to see some great benefits (as well as staving off the need for knee replacement surgery).
“And in terms of everyone taking steps to keep their knees in tip top condition, my topline lifestyle advice would be considering supplementation such as collagen, Vitamin D and Omega-3; being careful not to ‘hang on to excess body weight’; exercising regularly in the pool / water and building squats, lunges and deadlifts and upper body strengthening into your daily or weekly exercise routine (which can easily be done at home without having to go to gym). Essentially, keep moving, keep moving, keep moving!”

Arthrosamid® offers patients suffering from the pain and immobility caused by knee osteoarthritis with an effective alternative to current therapies, without the need for potential surgical intervention. It is a permanent injectable hydrogel that once injected into the synovial cavity forms a cushion-like membrane within the synovial lining that decreases joint stiffness, diminishes pain and improves function in the knee affected by osteoarthritis,.

To find out more about clinics offering the treatment, please go to this page.

To learn more about Dr Sarah Davies' experience and clinical services, visit Panacea Heath's website.

REFERENCES:
Christensen, L., Daugaard, S., 2016. Histological Appearance of the Synovial Membrane after Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis with Polyacrylamide Gel Injections: A Case Report. Journal of Arthritis 5, 217. Henriksen M, Overgaard A, Hartkopp A, Bliddal H. Intra-articular 2.5% polyacrylamide hydrogel for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: an observational proof-of-concept cohort study. Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2018 Nov-Dec;36(6):1082-1085. Epub 2018 Jul 18. PMID: 30148430. Tnibar A, Schougaard H, Camitz L, Rasmussen J, Koene M, Jahn W, Markussen B. An international multi-centre prospective study on the efficacy of an intraarticular polyacrylamide hydrogel in horses with osteoarthritis: a 24 months follow-up. Acta Vet Scand. 2015 Apr 15;57(1):20. doi: 10.1186/s13028-015-0110-6.
OUS/ARTHRO/FEB2024/054

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By agreeing, you accept the use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.