Medical treatment for injuries seems as though it would be straightforward. You go to a health professional or the hospital, have it assessed, get any tests that are required, and start the treatment they recommend. Easy.

But what happens when they tell you everything is fine or that it is not that serious, but you still have significant pain or unanswered questions? We are lucky that as humans we are typically skeptical. In this case it may be a good idea to get a second opinion.

I have recently had two patients present with traumatic injuries, one in a fall and the other in a motor vehicle accident. Both attended hospital straight after the incident due to significant injury and pain. The patient that was in a motor vehicle accident had surgery to a wrist injury and was sent on his way without too much instruction. After the surgery he was given little instruction about his prospects regarding returning to his sport, which is boxing, by his surgeon, so I gave him the details of a wrist specialist that I have worked with and this surgeon has been able to give him further information. It is more serious than previously explained and is going to require further medical input for the best outcome than was previously explained.

Following his fall the other patient was struggling to walk, due to foot pain. This patient had assessment and an X-ray in emergency and was told there is no fracture, you can slowly resume daily activities such as walking as the pain settles, however in the mean time use crutches as you have sprained the ligaments/muscles in your foot. Unfortunately over the course of a week, this patient’s pain increased and walking became impossible. So fortunately he presented to hospital again and asked for further in depth testing. This time following further scans a diagnosis of a Lisfranc fracture was made (a ligament, fracture injury that destroys the stability of the foot). It required surgery and a significant rehabilitation period (>6 months).

Both of these cases highlight that if you have an injury, particularly a traumatic injury, that you are not receiving all of the information that you require or the symptoms do not match the advice given, a second opinion is a great option.