Dr Google – friend or foe?
The Internet is positive for people wanting to take more interest in their health. Who hasn’t dropped in on “Dr Google” to search a health complaint? The improved access to health professionals – especially the ability to reach remote locations – is fantastic.
There is some great physio information available via Dr Google: people can now access quality information on exercise, stretching, technique, recovery, and injury prevention very easily. At Elite Akademy we’ve had fantastic responses to health and fitness issues via our blog, Facebook and YouTube channel. If this helps people then it’s a huge positive.
But is there a downside to Dr Google?
The biggest downside is potential for misdiagnosis. A wrong diagnosis carries several risks – at the very least it may mean you are living with pain or discomfort for longer than necessary.
Sometimes information isn’t enough – you need a qualified expert who has thousands of treatments under their belt. Disciplines such as physiotherapy require hands-on treatment for accurate diagnosis.
Many ailments, such as back pain, result from problems elsewhere in the body. For example, you may have a pain in your back but the cause may be a problem with your knee. We see and deal with these issues daily – we have seen people who have hobbled into our clinic due to calf pain, barely able to move, and had them walking out later after we have found and treated the true issue in their back. Without proper hands-on evaluation, the potential for misdiagnosis is huge.
The other, dark side to Dr Google, is leading people to the worst-case scenarios, creating untold stress and panic. For example, people may think their back pain is sciatica, or a stress fracture, when it may be much simpler; or they may think a headache is a brain tumour because Dr Google told them so!
Even if Dr Google makes sense regarding your ailment, it’s important not to jump to conclusions. People must remember that accessing the information is one thing, making clear sense of it requires professional evaluation.