When simple treatment is better

Sometimes, consumers say, it's hard to get the medical establishment to take you seriously when you truly want a low-tech treatment before going for MRIs or other high-tech wonder-tests. A case in point came recently when a reporter for a major metro daily injured her foot after running too far for her fitness level. After struggling with terrible left forefoot pain, she attempted to diagnose herself, finding out that she could have a stress fracture, but continued to run four to six miles a day. As it turns out, a doctor in Oklahoma wrote to her in response to her story about the problem, suggesting that she might have extensor tendinitis, an inflammation of the tendon that straightens the toe. The treatment for this is a corticosteroid injection and lidocaine. The reporter tried repeatedly to get a doctor to try this first-line treatment, but got nowhere with her internist or orthopedist within her health insurance network. Finally, she got an out-of-network orthopedist to give her the injection, which worked like a charm, saving $1,000 plus for an MRI and follow-up doctors' appointments. What's telling here is how resistant most doctors apparently were to attempting a less-invasive and less costly procedure. Is her experience common? Tell me what you think.

To get the story behind one editor's low-tech health solution:
- read this article in The New York Times

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