Many people leave their doctor’s office with more questions than when the entered. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your visit.
- Write down your questions before you go.
It’s impossible to remember everything, so take notes. Bring a list of your questions and jot down the answers. Your questions let your doctor know what’s important to you and what you do and don’t understand.
- Describe your symptoms.
Specifically when it started, how often it occurs and how long it lasts. Finally, describe what you are feeling. You can rate your pain on a scale of 1 – 10 or simple use words such as, "sharp," "burning," "stabbing," or "dull."
- Volunteer any related health history.
If you had a similar injury years ago, mention this. Additionally, disclose all your medications – prescribed and over the counter.
- Explain how your injury effects you.
It may feel uncomfortable for you to discuss anything other than the physical symptoms, but it’s important for you to also tell you doctor if your injury makes you anxious, depressed or angry. These emotions can be treated as well. Also this will help your doctor have a complete picture of you as a person, not just a ‘runner’ or skier’ when you see one another
- Bring someone with you.
It can be hard to remember everything during you appointment and having someone with you to listen, take notes or ask additional questions can be not only comforting, but useful.
- Tell you doctor if you don’t understand.
Have them repeat information, slow down, use different words and define their term. If you don’t understand what is being said, you will not get much out of the appointment. Let them know if you are confused.
- Ask about warning signs and limitations.
Ask your doctor what to watch for as a sign you are getting better or worse. And ask if there are specific activities or movements you should not do. Make sure you ask how long you should limit your activity and when and how to return to sports.
- Ask for a treatment plan.
You should leave the office understanding exactly what to expect in the coming weeks. You should also feel confident in your ability to follow the treatment plan outlined, and if you don’t you need to discuss this. You should also understand what you should (or should not) do, if you will receive follow-up treatment or other referrals, what sort of progress you should make, what to do if that doesn’t occur, and when you can return to regular activities. All these are opportunities to understand your illness or injury.
- Take responsibility for your health
It’s important to remember that you are your own best caretaker. You can make a real difference in your health by accepting responsibility for your outcome. Read, research, ask questions and become an informed patient.