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The Risks of Self-Diagnosis

Upstep - custom orthotics online
By Upstep Staff
Kelli Harris
Edited by Kelli Harris

Published October 19, 2021.

The risks of self-diagnosis

What do you do when your foot hurts?

Here's something you should never do: Trust Dr. Google. Read on to learn more about the risks of self-diagnosis for foot conditions.

Why Is Self-Diagnosis So Popular?

One evening, you notice your foot has been hurting lately. At the end of each day, it's swollen, tender, and painful to walk on. What would be your first course of action?

For many of us, it's Dr. Google. You know the drill - you unlock your phone and use an online symptom checker to find out what happened. Maybe you type in "arch pain" and "swelling" in the search box. And you get a diagnosis. Now that you know exactly what's wrong with you, you can meet with a doctor and tell him what tests to run and what meds to prescribe. You save time, money, and effort. Simple, right?

Perhaps not.

How Accurate Is Self-Diagnosis?

Self-diagnosis may seem straightforward, but it's often incorrect. In fact, research published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that self-diagnosis tools and symptom checkers are only accurate about 36% of the time. With no regulation or control over the content in those websites, you're more likely to get a wrong diagnosis than a right one.

But that's only the beginning. Collecting inaccurate information about your injury puts you on a path to further damage. This was clearly shown in a study published in the European Spine Journal reviewing how MRIs affected people's course of treatment.

The information or incorrect diagnosis leads to fear and anxiety. Patients are convinced they need to use specific treatments or take specific medication, as that's what they read online. However, these same treatments or drugs may worsen their injuries and even cause new damage. Rather than trust the expertise and knowledge of their doctor, they opt for unproven, even dangerous options.

In many cases, these same patients will be forced to revisit the doctor's office soon - to treat the effect of those self-administered treatments they insisted on.


We all have that urge to trust ourselves (or the information we read) more than real professionals - but it's important to remember that doctors studied for many, many years to help us get better. Not only that, but they constantly keep studying, reading new research, and visiting professional conferences to keep themselves up-to-date.

S,o next time your feet hurt, step in a FeetKit impression box and leave the diagnosis to our expert podiatrists. That may just be what makes all the difference.