Is Google a better doctor than your doctor?

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Taking common painkillers such as ibuprofen for only a week can significantly raise the risk of having a heart attack, a major new study suggests.

Patients are being urged to limit their use of the drugs for as short a period as possible after they were linked to increased heart attack chances of more than 50 per cent… More at The Telegraph.

Back in January I visited my GP with persistent elbow and forearm pain. She did a quick check up and told me to take ibuprofen for 4 weeks. I went back after a month and she told me to carry on taking it as a ‘strain’ can take time to heal.

After I started to get stomach problems because of the ibuprofen, she gave me Omeprazole to help deal with that, but to carry on with the ibuprofen.

Eventually another GP (one who seemed a lot more switched on) referred me to a private hospital through the NHS. The consultant examined me and diagnosed Tennis Elbow, and advised to stop taking the ibuprofen straight away.

He then gave me a steroid injection in the elbow and told me to return in 6 weeks if it does not get any better.

And then I read these two pieces–

Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to treat particularly painful musculoskeletal problems. However, there is limited clinical evidence to support their use as an effective treatment for tennis elbow.

Corticosteroids are a type of medication that contain man-made versions of the hormone cortisol.

Corticosteroid injections may help reduce the pain of tennis elbow in the short term, but their long-term effectiveness has been shown to be poor. (source NHS)

Overall it is clear that the local administration of glucocorticoid has significant negative effects on tendon cells in vitro, including reduced cell viability, cell proliferation and collagen synthesis. There is increased collagen disorganisation and necrosis as shown by in vivo studies. The mechanical properties of tendon are also significantly reduced. This review supports the emerging clinical evidence that shows significant long-term harms to tendon tissue and cells associated with glucocorticoid injections. (source Howard J. Luks)

So, the best advice is to make Google your doctor?

And my elbow still f*cking hurts!

2 thoughts on “Is Google a better doctor than your doctor?

  1. I would suggest that if you Google something specific and look at multiple reputable medical sites for articles in the last few years, you’ll probably get a fairly accurate view of current medical thinking. Not that that’s always correct and of course there’s lots of anecdotal commentary out there. As well, you never know how much research is industry financed. However the same conclusion from multiple sources is usually a good indicator. Of course things can change tomorrow.

    Based on what I’ve seen and been told by multiple doctors, acetaminophen or Tylenol for pain relief is okay in recommended dosages. Yes you can read about liver damage but that’s almost always due to overdose. That’s also assuming you’re not allergic.

    I’ve been warned off of aspirin and ibuprofen a number of times for various reasons. Even the small aspirin doses if you have any history of stomach issues or internal bleeding or low iron.

    As for your elbow, try extended release tylenol. That may help. And it’s safer than ibuprofen: http://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/acetaminophen-safety-be-cautious-but-not-afraid. If you’ve had various tests (x-ray, MRI, etc) that show that there’s no physical damage, it may be that things have shifted or changed. For example, I had what’s known as a trigger finger. Due to tendons or ligaments (can never remember which is which) shrinking, my finger would lock when I bent it. Steroid shots in your palm hurt and burn more than I can describe but they may or may not do anything. Surgery does but I’d lose the use of my hand for 6-8 weeks and of course it was my right hand and I’m very right handed.

    What follows is my experience, your mileage may vary. Besides the finger, I had knee pain, which although not severe, was annoying, especially going downstairs. And shoulder pain from I don’t know what. My wife, through a business networking group, had met a woman who does Bowen Works treatments. Here’s the UK site: https://www.bowenworks.org/. Bowen is a non-invasive and usually gentle treatment that moves things back to where they belong. Long story short, my finger no longer locks and the surgery I was scheduled for was cancelled. My knees no longer hurt and she’s working on my shoulder. Maybe it would help you, maybe not. It certainly made me a believer and you know what a skeptic I am.

  2. You can, undoubtedly, find the right answer to pretty much anything using Google.

    The problem is that it is probably hidden among numerous other, wrong, perhaps even dangerous, answers, and that, lacking the training and skills of a professional in the field, you’ve no way of knowing. And even if you can find the answer, again, no way of knowing whether there are good reasons why you should take a different route or avoid a particular drug.

    It’s much the same with legal stuff: one can, of course, search Google for an answer to most problems. And you might strike it lucky. Or you might end up relying on someone’s personal theory as to how something works, rather than an accepted legal position. Or someone who over-emphasises the legal risk, or fails to offer a pragmatic alternative to a legal remedy.

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