We’ve all heard of the term self-diagnosing.

For those unfamiliar with it, though, this is simply the process of an individual attempting to diagnose or identify a medical condition in yourself.

And since the rise of search platforms, like Google, it has become increasingly more prominent.

Back in 2020, a study showed that 59% of the UK said that they Google their health symptoms before consulting a doctor. The result of that is shown in a further report which outlined that the results of searches online cause stress in 74% of people.

As a specialist in arch support insoles for a number of foot-related problems, including Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendonitis, we recently looked into trending data to see what people most commonly are searching for when they attempt to self-diagnose their foot injuries.

As of July 2022, in the last 12 months there have been:

  • a 250% increase in searches for ‘pain on top of foot near ankle’
  • a 140% increase in searches for ‘warm sensation in foot no pain’
  • a 110% increase in searches for ‘sudden foot pain without injury’
  • a 90% increase in searches for ‘foot pain radiating up leg’

And according to our Director, Will Munro, it is these rises that are causing people to unnecessarily spend thousands of pounds on an incorrect solution.

He told us: “By misdiagnosing the issue yourself, you could end up treating it with something that isn’t going to make a difference. 

Alternatively, you could end up buying a bespoke product, for say £700, when really there is likely to be a cheaper product on the market that is much more suitable as well as affordable. 

Without this expert knowledge, search tools like Google may cost you time and wasted money, as well as allowing the health issue at hand to get worse while remaining untreated.” 

Let’s focus for a moment on that word: bespoke.

Quite often, we assume that a bespoke solution is the best solution. One that is tailored to the issues we have flagged. But what if those problems we raise are incorrect? 

Our message to you is that, actually, you don’t need a bespoke solution, you need the right solution. And that often is a much cheaper alternative.

A lot of shoes are made the same and once you’ve identified the foot problem you’re dealing with having spoken to an expert, there will likely be something on the market a lot cheaper. 

Woman with foot injury

Everyone’s pain is different

Everyone’s pain level is different. Some people have a high pain threshold and can cope with a certain material density compared to others. 

This isn’t something that Google takes into account when it is providing its solutions, making it difficult to know what is and isn’t right for you when purchasing footwear or dealing with foot issues.

Alongside that, searchers will often ignore the simple solution like insoles and opt for pain relief to mask an injury, in the hope that it will disappear. However, our data suggests that those who invest in insoles sooner rather than later have fewer foot-related issues going forward, particularly with children.

Will Munro said: “There isn’t exact data around how long it takes a person to proactively try and solve a foot problem, but what we know is that it is incredibly common, particularly in younger people.  

There is still a stigma that associates insoles with older people. That simply just isn’t the case. Data also shows that those people who invest in insoles sooner rather than later as a result of a foot problem have much fewer issues going forward, particularly in children.  

Unfortunately, there are still far too many people that will take pain relief, like Ibuprofen, and don’t deal with a foot issue until it becomes unbearable. However, the reality is that it could have been solved far sooner. Again, why expert advice specific to you is crucial.” 

Are you working in an industry that requires you to be on your feet all day?

Did you know that Australian doctors recently determined that you only have to be on your feet for two hours per day to improve your heart rate? 

The reality with some industries, though, is that there are people that are spending well in excess of that figure - often wearing the wrong footwear - which is causing them long-term damage. 

“Across the board, people that work in warehouse and manufacturing settings are our most frequent customers.

These, generally, are people that are on their feet all day, pacing up and down, lifting heavy items, and don’t have breaks. People in those settings find that they need a lot more support because they’re not provided with the correct footwear for the job that they’re doing.  

We’re big advocates for industries, like manufacturing and warehouses, to incorporate proper foot health guidance and guidelines for its workers.

There are studies available in the steel industry that showed when people were provided with the proper footwear, the number of sick days and time off fell dramatically.

There are simple solutions out there for businesses to avoid these situations, as well as consumers who are buying for themselves. Simply put, not providing the right support for your feet can lead to serious health problems. 

As well as warehouse staff, NHS nurses and doctors come to us frequently. Because of their roles, they do have more understanding of the impact of being on their feet all day. The NPA (National Pharmacy Association), which we are a partner of, is looking more into this issue.” 

Warehouse team

Final thoughts 

Let’s be honest, we all do it.

Searching for anything online is an act of convenience. Websites like Google allow us to make purchases within a click or a tap, find answers to that random question we have, and discover the latest news.

However, it isn’t in a position to be able to properly diagnose our issues and doesn’t have that expert’s eye or human touch. Misleading and false information also fill search results constantly, and it can be difficult to know what’s right or wrong.

Sure, self-diagnosing online is an issue that transcends beyond foot health, one that leads to us doing more harm than good in our searches for a solution.

Sticking with feet, though, and while they’re so important, they are also very delicate. By trying to identify an issue you’re having online you could be unnecessarily drawing out an issue which can lead to further problems down the line - not just with your feet, but with your legs and back.

In turn, this could lead to you taking a big financial hit, too.

It would always be our advice to ignore the internet and seek advice from an expert first-hand - someone that recognises what your issue is and guide you towards products, whether that be as simple as the correct insoles and footwear, and solutions that are both cost-effective and suited to your issue.