‘Illegal’ bone setters enjoy people’s backing
Hyderabad: Neeraj P (name changed) recently suffered a sprain in his neck. To get relief from shooting pains, he went to a bone setter (‘orthopaedic practitioner’) whom his family has been regularly consulting for any orthopaedic ailments.
The bone setter massaged Neeraj’s neck, which gave him temporary relief. However, by evening, the pain worsened and Neeraj visited a neurologist. The doctor told him that he initially only had a sprain, but after his visit to the bone setter, he had suffered a spasm, which was more painful and more severe. In spite of this experience, Neeraj and his family still vouch for the bone setter, saying this case was a one-off, and till date they had good results whenever they consulted him.
A dichotomy between loyal patients on the one hand and skepticism of authorities on the other exists for hundreds of bone setters ‘practicing’ in the city. Though the health department and medical associations are against allowing them to practice as they did not enjoy legal recognition, the practice is thriving and continues to draw patients, who swear by their competence levels.
President of Healthcare Reforms Doctors Association (HRDA) Dr. Mahesh Kumar said that bone setters are considered as quacks by the medical community.
“Orthopaedic doctors receive so many cases where people who have taken treatment from bone setters are suffering from complications such as malunion (fracture healing in an abnormal position), nonunion (failure of broken bone to heal properly) and osteomyelitis (infection of the bone),” he said.
Dr Kumar said the practice is especially popular in Hyderabad as people lack awareness. “They are seen as a cheaper alternative but people can approach government hospitals for free treatment. We have taken up the issue of quacks with the Telangana State Medical Council (TSMC) on umpteen occasions,” he said.
TSMC Registrar Dr Hanumantha Rao said the council was aware that there were lots of bone setters practising in Hyderabad and they do not have any legality. “We have circulated all the ITC sections under which they can be booked to DMHOs and have told them to apprehend quacks and report to the police. Apart from that, we don’t have any power,” he said.