If you finally found the correct doctor that you think might be able to help you it is a great idea to come prepared with at least a few questions. Often times we have limited time with out medical providers so going in with a game plan and knowing what to ask can give us better insights into our health. I often find that most people do not come prepared with a set of questions and for this reason; many people are disappointed when the doctor did not answer their question or leaves early.
Before you begin, I would advise that you take these questions and bring them with you to your doctor’s visits and bring a pen and paper to write some information down.
Question 1: What do you think is going on with me?
Doctors come up with that they call a diagnosis and often times have a differential diagnosis. This means that have what they think is the problem and also what may be an alternative to the problem. This gives practitioners multiple options of the potential issue. You may want to ask why they think this, although do it in a very gentle way because it can come off a bit doubtful on your end.
Question 2: How does this happen?
In medical terms we call this the MOI or mechanism of injury. How does this happen and what is the cause? In most cases there is never really one thing that caused your pain or problem but having an idea of how your injury occurs can leave a key insight to how to prevent it.
Question 3: What is the treatment and treatment options? What other tests or exams do I need or should I consider?
Now that you likely know what is going on, you want to know what are the treatment options. This can give you a choice between surgery and Chiropractic, rehab, nutritional counseling, behavior modification, physical therapy, etc. In addition, sometimes you may not have all the answers you need yet so ask if there is any additional testing that can help your case.
Question 4: What treatment options do you recommend and why?
This answer is partially subjective to the doctor, meaning it their choice and you may not have an input. Listen to the reason of the doctor and see if they make valid points. This question you should truly listen to!
Question 5: How can I prevent, manage, or improve my issue on my own?
I truly believe that a good doctor is one that helps guide you through treatment and also educates you! If the doctor or therapist is unwilling to teach you about your condition and body, this is a sign that you may not want to continue with them.
Question 6: How long is this going to take?
Nobody has a crystal ball to tell you exactly how long your injury or problem will last but nobody is more qualified to tell you how long you will be dealing with this. The doctor has likely seen many cases like yours and so they will have the best ballpark idea on the time it takes to deal with your condition. This is where patients often get taken back by the length of time. Remember, this is the most qualified person to give you an average time but it can be shorter or longer. Everyone is different and heals at different rates.
Question 7: Is there anything I can do on my own that will speed up this process?
Playing an active role in your care is truly the best thing you can do to get better. Nobody is going to fix you, you will! That said, you can get the proper guidance but if you take control with doing the correct things for your body, you can heal faster. This includes exercises, rehab, avoiding bad things that trigger your condition, eating well, supplementation and better sleep. While there are likely many suggestions they may give, you are looking for an answer that will give you the biggest impact on your condition. Remember to start with just one or two things! As you improve, you can add more or better habits but don’t stretch yourself too thin.
Question 8: Is there anything I should avoid to help this?
Sometimes the best things you can do are to avoid certain things that trigger your problem or symptoms. In many cases, people are often doing the very thing that got them there in the first place so changing your habits can really help. You will make your healing much more difficult if you do not change your habits or avoid the mechanism of injury.
Question 9: When is the next visit? What should I do before the next visit?
This tells me that the patients are active and willing to participate in their own care! Truly, they are more fun to treat because they realize that they are the player in their own problem. Asking this question allows the doctor/coach to help give you a game plan of “what’s next” on the list of things you can do. View this as you action plan!
Question 10: What should I expect during this process?
Often times we don’t ask this question but what does the future look like? We all don’t have this answer and you shouldn’t take this answer as a definitive but having an idea of the future is important. For example, if you leave you house around 8am for work, you can expect there may be some traffic right? So account for this! There are always ups and downs in the healing process but you want to make sure you can navigate this process correctly!
Remember you may have limited time with your doctor (or you may be limited by your own schedule) so having these questions ready to go on the spot will help lead the conversation so that you can get the answers you want and need to jumpstart or continue your healing process. Of coarse, if there are any specific questions, I would write them down as well but this list of questions can help you get the answers you need.
By Dr. Josh Jagoda (Chiropractor and Owner of San Diego Spine & Sports Wellness)