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How do I assess what I see on social media in regard to back pain?

Woman with neck painWhen you suffer from back pain, hearing about treatments on TV, the internet or social media can spark hope that you might treat your pain and find relief. However, more than 60% of people seeking health information online report frustration about getting quality information from online sources.
As a chiropractor for more than 20 years, I have extensive experience helping my patients navigate back pain treatment ideas they find online.

Finding Reliable Information Online

No matter where you first hear about health information online, making sure that you seek additional information from a reliable source is important. On the internet and social media, some people will provide links to back up their medical claims. However, it can be hard to know if the sites are unbiased and reputable.

Luckily, federal government agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will provide health information online for free. NIH sponsors MedlinePlus, which is a database of reputable, patient-friendly health information.
If you hear about a back pain treatment online or on TV, going to these sites is an excellent place to start for quality information.

Other information to consider when you are trying to see if a site is reputable include:

  • Who sponsors the site: The web address of a site can give you a good idea about who is funding the information. Commercial websites, including many sites that end in .com, may be attempting to sell products. In contrast, other website address endings can indicate they are from unbiased sources. These include:
  • .gov – the Federal government
  • .edu – colleges and universities
  • .org – nonprofit organizations including professional groups and medical societies
  • Who created the content on the site: The author of the website content may or may not be listed on the site. Before trusting the information you read, it is important to try to figure out if the person is an expert in the field, or if they are a healthcare professional.
  • What the purpose of the site is: Some sites exist for the specific purpose of selling products or services. Taking a look through the website can give you a better idea whether the site is trying to sell you a service or provide you with unbiased information. Often, the “About Us” section of a webpage will tell you what the site’s goal is.
  • Whether the site promises quick fixes: As the old adage states, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Miracle cures and sites promising quick fixes may not be reputable, especially if the site is trying to sell a product or service.
  • Who reviewed the information on the site: Many healthcare sites will post articles that are reviewed by licensed medical experts in the field. By listing the name of the reviewer, sites can show that the information they post passes medical muster.
  • When the information was posted: The medical field is fast-moving. Because information can quickly become out of date, it is important that online medical information lists a publication date.
  • If your privacy is protected: Some sites may track you via online “cookies”. Further, the site will likely collect information about you if you subscribe with your name and email address. Many sites will list a privacy policy that can show you how the site will protect your data.

Questions for the Doctor About Treatment

If you have back pain, it is important to see your doctor. Certain health conditions can worsen if untreated or improperly treated, and it is important that your doctor assess your health status. Although some people may look to the internet, TV, and social media to determine if they should see a doctor in the first place, it is best to call your doctor’s office to see if an appointment is needed. Your doctor knows your medical history and will be able to give you recommendations on whether you should come in for an appointment. In contrast, information online or on TV is unlikely to be specific to your particular health needs. Some good reasons to seek out information on treatments before or after a doctor’s visit include to:

Prepare yourself for the doctor’s appointment
Find good questions to ask the doctor about treatments during the appointment
Search additional information after the appointment

Making Sure You Understand the Health Information

When providing health information, some sites may use medical jargon that is hard to understand. Conversely, some sites may provide an overly simplistic overview of how the treatment works to help your pain. Making sure that you fully understand what the treatment is and how it works is important.

There is no shame in asking questions, especially when it comes to your medical care. You should always feel comfortable asking your doctor for help in better understanding a treatment.

Evaluating Information From Precision Spinal Care

At Precision Spinal Care, I make sure to use high quality medical evidence when coming up with all of my treatment plans. I offer patient-friendly medical resources both in print and on this website. To provide the best care possible, I stay up to date on the most recent medical evidence as relates to chiropractic care and back pain. Further, I will discuss my assessments with you, answering all of your questions after a thorough examination.

My priority is giving you reliable health information in an easy-to-understand way.

If it is determined that chiropractic is not the best solution, I will explain your condition and recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert chiropractic care. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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