Category: Spine Surgery, Surgeons | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 24, 2016
When people find themselves in a room with an expert, oftentimes they are compelled to stay quiet and listen to everything the expert has to say. Most times this is a great way to get a large amount of information, but the best learning also involves asking questions. These questions can have a variety of different goals; they can be for clarification, they can be tangential, or they can be used to approach a subject in a related field.
The same logic that applies in our nation’s classrooms also needs to be applied to our doctor’s office. If you are in back pain, it can be easy to walk in, have some scans taken and then listen to the doctor’s evaluation and recommendation, but that’s not the best course of action. You need to be asking you own questions and explaining your thoughts and concerns to your spine surgeon so you can use all of the information at your disposal to determine the best course of care. Today, we take a closer look at how that conversation should go.
Talking With Your Spine Surgeon
When meeting with a spine specialist, although the doctor will likely be asking the questions, you are actually the source of information. Don’t just let the doctor look at your chart for information. Tell them about your symptoms, describe when and how your pain sets in, and explain if any action or injury might be contributing to your pain. Also, don’t be shy about opening up about any allergies or your family history.
Next, the onus falls back on the doctor. He or she will perform a physical screen and may even order a round of X-rays or an MRI. This will give your doctor a hands-on look and an inside look at your spinal structures. Once they have evaluated you and have examined your charts, your doctor will explain your diagnosis. This is an important time to be an active listener. Try to understand what your doctor is saying, but also begin formulating questions in your head. If your doctor doesn’t dive into treatment options, ask them about all your available options and the benefits and drawbacks of each. Some doctors will explain all of your options, while others will only recommend their preferred method of treatment. You shouldn’t have any qualms about asking about all your options.
Keeping Your Treatment Goals in Mind
When discussing treatment, keep your goals in mind. Maybe you are hoping to be fully healthy for an upcoming football season or you have a family trip coming up. Would surgery get in the way, or will it give you the best chance and fully healing? Or maybe you simply want to be able to play with your grandkids without spine pain. Explain to your doctor what goals you have in mind and how the ideal situation would play out, because your doctor can help find a solution that best suits your needs.
Finally, the decision about your treatment needs to be a mutual decision. You should never feel pressured to go into surgery or try a treatment method you’re not comfortable with. Your doctor can make his best recommendation based on all the information you’ve given him, but at the end of the day, the final decision is yours. By making the conversation with your spinal surgeon a two-way flow of communication, you’ll not only feel more at ease about your condition, but you’re also more likely to have a successful treatment because it is tailored to your needs and goals.