As I’m sure you have heard, we are in the midst of a crisis in the healthcare field. There are just not enough doctors to see all of the patients that need help, and many have noticed their visits getting shorter and shorter as the hard working healthcare practitioners of the world try and get as many people better as possible. Unfortunately, with these shorter visits, many practitioners have less time to hear the entire story, and details can get lost that may help you get better faster! Today, I want to give you a list of questions, and their answers can help many of your doctors get to the root of the problem.
- Was there an event that you think caused your problem? It can be hard to pinpoint, but NOT having a kickstarting event can actually be just as big a clue for your doctors as knowing the exact cause off the bat. Sure, I can put good money on exactly what ligament was effected if you can describe exactly how you landed, but if you pain started without warning, telling me about the events of the preceding day or days can still be just as helpful, and if there was nothing out of the ordinary, that can be useful too!
- What symptoms are all part of your problem? More often than not, I see people for pain, but rarely is that all that is happening. Weakness, loss of mobility or flexibility, numbness/tingling, can all be big puzzle pieces. One symptom, like pain in your gut, is a complex problem. That symptom combined with other changes you have noticed, chills, bowel and bladder changes, dizziness, even things that seem completely unrelated but are brand new to you, can be very helpful because those clusters of symptoms can help greatly in narrowing down the cause of the primary symptom! This is true of illness or injury, so before stepping into the office, try and think of a list of all the things that have changed in your health recently beyond just the big thing driving you to your doctor, and you’d be surprised at how fast they can use that to piece things together!
- Can you describe your symptoms thoroughly? Dizziness can mean anything from literal room spinning, to lightheadedness, to a feeling of imbalance. Each of these signals a different set of disorders, but unfortunately the word dizziness encompasses them all. What type of pain or your having? Can your draw a boundary line around the area of your symptoms, is it a pinpoint location? The more specific your words, the faster your doctor can narrow down how your symptoms might be related!
- Have you noticed things that aggravate or alleviate those symptoms? Positions, specific medications, topicals, temperatures, movements, what have you tried and what haven’t you done yet? A symptom that feels better in one position than another, again be it illness or injury, can tell me a lot! What have you done to get comfortable already? Know that can help me figure out the mechanism of your problem! The same can be very true about being specific with things that really aggravate you as well! Foods, movement angles, weights, what is specific to you? Perfect, that thing might be a big key to me!
- Do you have a thorough list of other medical conditions you have? You would be surprised how much your blood pressure can affect, or a history of diabetes. Hormone issues, other injuries, recent surgeries, a lot can add up to cause a new issue, so being able to give a thorough and concise list of your history can help many of your doctors find pieces that would otherwise be missing.
It changes the conversation doesn’t it! There can be a big difference between “my ankle hurts” and “my ankle hurts when…” and being your own advocate can help get you the right care faster in the current system!