Researching the Internet

With the ease of finding information on the internet many people try to research their conditions. One of the problems with this is that you are getting information from who knows where, usually based on vague symptoms. Frequently, self diagnosis is incorrect and leads to reading a lot of information that may increase your fear of your condition. A doctor once told me to never diagnosis yourself because you will always assume it is the worst possible thing you can think of (or find on the internet). This is why many times we diagnose our pain as potentially frightening conditions. This reminds me of a saying “If you see horse tracks don’t go looking for zebras.” I may have messed that saying up, but I think it is a good saying nonetheless. If it is not a real saying I would like to take credit for it.

After a PT examination many people ask me to write down their condition so they can research it further. I don’t mind this at all and encourage people to be as educated as they can on their condition. There is one thing I request, however. Don’t freak out on what you find. You will likely find information or testimonials on the internet on your condition that will make it sound like you have to go to the ER. We do refer patients to other specialists when appropriate, and I have even sent 1 patient to the ER (out of thousands). If you feel that you may need to see a specialist or have other concerns please talk with your physical therapist and develop a plan together.

Overall I would say the internet is a great resource for information, but to be very careful on how you relate that information to your condition.

Jamie Bovay, DPT, CSCS