My favorite thing about online health communities is the ability to do research before a doctor appointment so I'm more knowledgeable about my health issue and can ask intelligent questions. They are also helpful after the doctor appointment to find out further information.
As an example, 2 months ago I slipped in the shower and caught myself with my right hand, bending back the 3rd and 4th fingers. The 3rd finger is the real problem, as it has not healed. It remains very swollen and when my finger gets stuck in the bent position the next day I will notice purple bruising around the knuckle or below the knuckle. I've had x-rays and 3 doctor visits before being referred to an Orthopaedic Doctor. I was told I have something called "trigger finger".
My primary care doctor told me that I'd probably get a cortisone shot, unless the Orthopaedic Doctor feels there is damage that must be repaired by surgery. A quick search of the internet let me know that the surgery would be required if the sheath covering the tendons is damaged.
I think with the miniscule amount of time doctors spend with patients today it's imperative that patients do research before and after their appointments so they can fully understand their health issue and ask appropriate questions during their doctor visits.
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