Can You Trust Orthopedic Injury Information On The Internet?

December 18, 2018 | In the News

By Dev Mishra, M.D.

President, Sideline Sports Doc

Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • Finding trustworthy information on the Internet specific to orthopedic surgery and sports medicine can be challenging, but if you stick to content from major national orthopedic or sports medicine associations, major medical centers, or highly credentialed individual authors you’ll be safe

I’m sure this is true everywhere in the country but it seems to be particularly true here in Silicon Valley where I practice: people naturally consult the Internet for information about their injuries. But can you actually trust what you’re reading?

When a patient comes to see me in the clinic I will frequently ask them whether they have consulted any Internet sources as this helps me get some context behind the knowledge about their condition. As long as the source of the information is good I welcome this kind of research as it tends to improve their recovery from the problem.

In this time of “fake news” which sites can you trust? The most important factor is to consider the source of the information.

A recently published study shed some light on patients’ use of the Internet prior to orthopedic consultations. Overall, 54% of patients used the Internet to find information about their orthopaedic condition prior to their consultation. The majority of patients (61%) were neutral toward orthopaedic information found online, and only 32% of patients trusted the orthopaedic information they found online.

Specific to orthopedic and sports medicine injuries, I would recommend following some of these general principles. You can trust information coming from major national orthopedic associations, well-known medical systems, or websites where the authors of articles are properly credentialed and thoroughly vetted individuals. Here are some examples.

  1. Websites from major national orthopedic associations
    1. OrthoInfo from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This site is outstanding, written from the patient’s viewpoint and dives deep into many orthopedic conditions.
    2. Stop Sports Injuries from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. This site is geared towards young athletes and has information primarily focused on prevention, but also has information on treatment.
  2. Websites from major medical systems
    1. The Mayo Clinic.This may very well be the most trusted medical organization in the United States, and you can trust the information found on the site. The Mayo Clinic site is incredibly comprehensive across essentially any medical condition. While the breadth of information is impressive, sometimes the depth is a bit shallow. That’s my only critique of this otherwise very highly recommend site.
  3. Websites from highly reputable individuals. In the world of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine this is where it can get a bit sticky. In my opinion each article presented on an individual physicians website or corporate website should be individually authored by someone with credentials sufficient to speak on the topic. You should be able to research the author’s credentials directly from the website by clicking on the “about” section of the site. The authors should be board certified in sports medicine and possibly orthopedic surgery, and preferably be a team physician.
    1. Sideline Sports Docwritten articles, video content, and educational products are all authored by highly experienced clinicians, and with content based in proven scientific methods.
    2. Brian Cole’spatient information site, tweets, and Facebook posts. Very strong in current information, focused in particular on cartilage restoration, knee, and shoulder.
    3. Geoff Abrams’patient centered website is strong in rehabilitation protocols from surgery.

There are of course many other outstanding websites and if you use the basic principles that I’ve outlined above you should be steer yourself towards solid, trustworthy information.





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