The Case Against Self-Diagnosis Via the Internet


Does it go without saying that people shouldn’t rely on the internet to replace their doctor? It seems obvious to the podiatrists here at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center. And yet, people use the web to self-diagnose all the time!

Let’s talk about why they do it.

  • It’s convenient. Look at all the information at our fingertips! And we can get it at 2:00 a.m. if we want!

  • It’s quick. No travel time to the doctor’s office required.

  • It’s inexpensive. An online diagnosis is cheaper than live health care, especially for those who may lack insurance coverage.

Why it’s such a bad idea

Using the web to diagnose your medical problem often leads to misunderstanding, misinformation, and unfounded fears. Studies have shown that if we know the flu is going around, for example, we are more likely to believe our symptoms point to the flu. Similarly, if you post a question about foot pain on a social media site such as Reddit, you’ll get hundreds of answers. Then you spend a lot of time and energy to figure out which one applies to you. It’s possible none of them does. And you’re still left wondering - with a condition that might be getting worse without proper medical attention.

Is there any value at all to consulting Dr. Google?

If you’re going to use the internet, use a reliable source. Those might include sites ending in .gov or .org. Our website is a fantastic resource for accurate medical information about your feet. But here’s the bottom line:  only a qualified doctor can provide you with the reassurance you‘re looking for. Bring your symptoms and your research to us, but be open to the possibility that you’ve got it all wrong. Our board-certified physicians Dr. Samantha Boyd, Dr. Hal Ornstein, Dr. Dan Phan, and Dr. Joseph Saka will use their training and years of experience to diagnose and treat your foot pain.

When you’re suffering from a foot or ankle injury, always opt for professional, reliable advice. Call us at (732) 905-1110 for an appointment in Howell or Jackson, New Jersey.