Is your doctor/physical therapist asking you enough questions about your pain?
Why this matters:
Healthcare professionals are scientists trying to solve problems. The problem is your pain. In order for them to effectively manage your pain, they need to go through a simple yet effective process. It should go like this: gather information about your injury, develop a hypothesis (educated guess), provide a treatment, and then reassess its effectiveness. If it is helpful, stay the course, if it isn’t helpful, change the course.
The most important part of the process is getting enough information.
Healthcare workers are overworked and burned out. They don’t have enough time to ask the right questions. There are tools in place to help reduce the burden so they can focus on improving patient care. However, information collection is a two way street. Biggest thing you can do is provide the best information possible, so they can help you solve the problem. How can we do that? Below are a list of questions that I recommend that you have answered before you meet with a provider. This will help guide the discussion and provide the necessary inputs to help them figure out a solution for you. Later this week we’ll go into specifics as to why these questions are so important.
Answer these questions for yourself. Hold onto these responses. Present it to your provider the next time you see them. These are the same exact questions that I ask my clients to get to the bottom of the problem.
When did this start? How did this start? How is your pain now compared to when it started?
How would you describe the pain you’re dealing with? Where is the pain location? The size? Intensity? How does the pain behave? Are you having any other issues in addition to this pain?
Let’s talk about your function. How does this affect your day to day? Are you able to stand for long periods of time? How long is that? Are you able to sit for long periods of time? How long is that? Are you able to walk? How far/long? What about your other activities? Are you able to exercise? What type of exercise do you do? How does it affect that?
Let’s talk about how your pain behaves. What makes the pain feel better? Are there any positions or stretches/exercises that help your pain? How long does that pain relief last? What makes your pain feel worse? How long does it take for your pain to return back to normal levels? What activities, stretches, or exercises do not affect your pain?
Tell me about your goals. Beyond pain relief, what are you trying to accomplish? What are some signs that show us that you are making an improvement?
Tomorrow I’ll break down why these questions are important.