How much do you really know about your condition?

May 26, 2018 by Lisa Bywaters


It occurred to me today that I really don’t understand as much about my condition as I should. I see my doctor regularly, I take my meds, exercise and manage my pain as best as I can.

But I actually don’t understand exactly what’s happening to my body at the basic level. How my condition works, progresses, and the nitty gritty of potential causes.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to know the cellular level stuff – though some of you may want to know that – I just think I should know more, so that I can make informed decisions and play a more active role in the management of my health.

So where to start?

There’s information everywhere and it can be overwhelming. It can sometimes be difficult to work out what information is good and helpful, and what information is wrong, misleading and even dangerous.

As a general rule, libraries, your health professionals, peer support groups, reputable websites/social media sites and peak organisations like Musculoskeletal Australia can give you great information to help you learn about, and understand, your condition.

And the information they provide will help in different situations. For example, your doctor can provide evidence-based information about your condition and treatment options, whereas members of a peer support group can give you practical information about the experience of living with a chronic condition.

I also find that asking lots of questions and being sceptical is key. The information you get – from any source – could potentially affect your health, so you should be cautious.

Some questions I ask when looking at new health information:

  • Who wrote/gave me the information? Do they have the proper qualifications?
  • Where does the information come from? Does it have the scientific evidence to support it?
  • Is the information balanced? Does it give me a variety of options, or provide only one?
  • Does the information provide links to scientific evidence? Or does it only use personal anecdotes from satisfied customers or celebrity endorsements?
  • Is the information up-to-date?
  • Is the information regularly reviewed and updated?

Information is power. So use it to take control over your health and your body.

And if you get confused about any information you find, talk with your doctor. You can also contact our MSK Help Line on 1800 263 265 for information and support.

“Information can bring you choices and choices bring power – educate yourself about your options and choices. Never remain in the dark of ignorance.” – Joy Page

Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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