Pain neuroscience education for treating Cyberchondria. Is Google really your friend?   January 1st, 2014

The internet is nowadays a popular information source for the general public when it comes to medical advice. It is an easy to use and very cheap source of information, which may lead to less medical consults. On the other hand, it can have several negative effects, like an overload of information, increased anxiety, distress, and compulsive search for medical information. Recently, this phenomenon has been referred to as “Cyberchondria”.

In a recently published case report of Sudarshan Anankumar, the negative effects of cyberchondria were described in a patient with chronic elbow pain as a result of brachioradialis myofascial pain syndrome, combined with central pain. This patient wrongly diagnosed his elbow pain several times using Google and self-treated his condition with methods found on Youtube, resulting in a failed outcome. Moreover, this patient developed catastrophic thoughts of having cancer, infection, and nerve injury.

After clinical examination, the patient was treated with pain neuroscience education, trigger point dry needling of the M. brachioradialis and exercise therapy. The patient was treated twice a week during the first two weeks and once in the third and fourth week. The patient was completely functional at the beginning of the fifth session and pain-free at the beginning of the sixth session.

This case report shows the potential of a multi-modal treatment including pain neuroscience education, dry needling and exercise therapy in chronic elbow pain with central pain as a result of cyberchondria. Although further research is needed, healthcare practitioners should bear in mind that cyberchondria may be a risk factor in developing central pain disorders.

Further reading & reference:

Jeroen Kregel

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