You come to your doctor because of low back pain, something you’ve been suffering for some time. Does your doctor listen to your description of your symptoms, or does he or she quickly write you a prescription without hearing your ideas about the cause of your low back pain?
When you seek medical attention for any reason, the first thing the physician should do is ask questions about your condition, how you feel, your symptoms and your life history. What do you think is the reason for your low back pain?
While a doctor needs information to make the right diagnosis to treat low back pain or any other problem, unfortunately, doctors give patients an average of 18 seconds to talk before interrupting their descriptions of symptoms.
At in2it Medical, we make it a point to listen to patients and to ask questions.
Questions your doctor must ask you before making a low back pain diagnosis
1. Where exactly does it hurt? You need to be specific with your answer. “My back hurts at my waist, more on the right side than the left.” If you can, point to the spot.
2. When do you feel low back pain? Does it hurt when you stand, walk, run, twist or lie down? Is the pain worse in the morning or the evening? Is it constant or does it vary through the day?
3. When did your pain begin? Was there an event that caused it, such as a sports injury? Were you doing something different or new the first time you felt the pain? Has the pain been constant since then, gotten better or gotten worse?
4. What is your best theory about the cause of your pain? If you’re sure that it was caused by a fall or an impact, tell your physician about it in detail.
5. What kind of pain do you feel? Describe whether it’s stabbing, burning, shooting pain, or a constant ache.
6. How bad is your pain? Physicians usually ask you to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you can imagine. Don’t overstate it — “11” is not helpful to the physician. Be realistic. Most doctors will accept that a natural childbirth is a 10 on the pain scale — use that as your guideline.
7. How does your pain affect your life? Low back pain can prevent you from performing your favorite activities, such as exercise or sports. It can make it difficult to sit or stand in one place for a long time. Tell your doctor about any changes you have had to make because of your low back pain.
8. What medications are you currently taking? Before prescribing any medication, the physician has to know about any possible drug interactions.
9. What are your goals? This is probably the least asked, but most important question when it comes to prescribing a treatment. What do you want to do? Are you hoping to play in a game on a specific date in the future? Take a trip? Or are you just trying to resume a normal activity? Understanding your goals can help you and your doctor plan a course of treatment.
Questions to ask your doctor
Studies have shown that up to 60 percent of patients do not know their diagnosis when they are discharged from a hospital. But the best outcomes are the results of doctors and patients working as a team toward a clear goal — like playing in that big game next month. And that can only happen when doctors and patients understand the diagnosis of the cause of low back pain and the treatment.
Before leaving your doctor’s office, ask these questions:
· What are the tests for?
· How many times have you performed this treatment or procedure?
· Why do I need a particular treatment?
· Are there alternatives?
· What are the possible side-effects?
· How many treatments will I need, over what period of time?
Treating low back pain, whether caused by sports injuries, a household accident or any other cause, starts with good communication between doctor and patient. Make sure your doctor listens to your history, and make sure you know the treatment plan, desired outcome and possible side-effects before you leave the clinic