Doctor Google… Healthy Knowledge or NOT!
Most of us are acutely aware that many aspects of our healthcare has moved ‘online’ and more and more we are turning our newfound ‘friend’ Dr Google to help us to diagnose what a problem might be and what we can best do to treat ourselves.
Is it helpful or not? This is a Physio’s perspective…..
Working face to face with patients where appropriate throughout the last 12 months at Ashbourne and Hilton Physio Centres has highlighted the obvious difficulties that many people have had accessing healthcare via their usual routes.
We have heard tales of “Dr Google” saving the day and being right on the money and other times when patients, already feeling vulnerable, have been left feeling terrified having read what their symptoms could be and how others have fared with similar symptoms.
How can we make best use of the internet and all the information it holds while avoiding the scare stories and ‘way out’ theories that abound?
Lorna Short – Clinical Director
My own feelings are that the internet can be a really useful tool to guide us to when to seek help and the most appropriate way to get that help if we use ‘trusted, authorised’ sites that are NOT trying to sell us anything and frighten us into buying something or acting in a certain way.
Our physio clinics deal principally with what are call ‘MSK (musculoskeletal) problems which are injuries or conditions affecting muscle, bone, joint, ligament and tendons. We often direct our patients to websites when they are interested in learning more about a particular problem and it can be so useful for patients to research their condition online and bring any questions with them to their next appointment. This enables us to discuss these aspects in more detail, explain anything that is unclear and reassure where necessary.
It is fascinating how we all respond differently to ailments and some people want as much information as possible to help them understand what is going on with their body so they know what to expect, while others are interested in only the bare minimum. In terms of who seems to be using Dr Google, it seems be used by all ages and particularly those who are comfortable with internet access. There are questions as to whether you should put your actual symptoms into a ‘Symptom Checker’ form and again, my suggestion would be to consider WHO runs that website and what they are likely to do with the information – TRUSTED WEBSITES ARE KEY.
BEWARE when ‘googling’ your symptoms & entering personal information
Very often your starting point to establish what IS wrong and (just as importantly) what ISN’T wrong would be to seek the advice of a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, whether that be a Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Podiatrist, Dietician, GP, etc. Sometimes, there is confusion over which professionals are ‘authorised’ or ‘validated’ to give diagnosis – as a general rule you can look them up on the HCPC (Health Care Professions Council) website www.hcpc-uk.org/check-the-register/
So, here are a few websites that we recommend as being helpful and TRUSTWORTHY for MSK problems with a clinical background and evidence base. However, please be aware that I am not an IT expert (in any way, shape or form) and please use your own discretion as to what information you give to any of these sites.
This is a huge website with basic information about a lot of conditions and is a really useful starting point.
The website has been put together by a group of professionals called MSK Reform and focusses on MSK problems including pain and some wider issues.
This is a link to the main versus arthritis website with targeted information on arthritis.
Tools to help those who live with persistent pain.
We really hope that you find some of these sites helpful and do not hesitate to give us a ring and book an appointment if you feel that you would like a Physio’s professional opinion on the problem you are struggling with. Meanwhile, Dr Google is there as a useful resource and starting point – happy ‘googling!’
Please call: Ashbourne: 01335 344952
Hilton: 01283 777070
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