The first time that a patient comes in to our lumbar spine specialty practice in New Jersey is often nerve-wracking for them, and hopeful for us. Medical professionals view a patient coming in as an opportunity to provide assistance and pain relief, while patients are generally nervous about seeing a new doctor of any kind: this is especially true when they’re afraid that the doctor is going to immediately jump to a surgical solution.
Though surgery is sometimes the best answer, in most cases patients seeking help for back or neck problems are helped by more conservative approaches, including therapy and medication. To help ease your anxiety, we are providing some helpful hints for things you should know before your appointment, questions you should ask, information you should have available, and things you should expect.
What to Know and Do Before Your Appointment
- Take the time to read the doctor’s website so that you can get a sense of their personal philosophy, as well as their educational background, how long they’ve been practicing, the services they provide, and more.
- Prepare a list of questions that you want answered. Keep the list with you so that you can add on as more concerns arise.
- Make a list of all medications that you’re taking, as well as any procedures, surgeries or treatments that you’ve undergone previously for back relief. If you’ve had any type of scans or have any reports from physicians you’ve seen previously, bring them with you.
- Bring a friend or family member with you. Doing so will not only help to make you feel better, but will also help ensure a clear memory of what is said during the appointment.
- Be prepared to take notes during the appointment. If you would like to record what the doctor says, be sure to let us know beforehand.
- Ask the office about whether your insurance is accepted, and whether you can fill out any medical history or personal information forms before you come in so that you don’t need to do it in the office
What to Do During Your Appointment
This is your opportunity to give your physician as clear a picture as possible of how your pain is affecting you. Make sure that you are straightforward and honest about where it hurts, about what activities make your pain worse, about what (if anything provides relief). The more information you provide, the better we will be able to help you. The doctor will want to know:
- When your pain started, what caused it (if you know), and whether it has always been the same level or whether it has gotten better or worse.
- Whether the pain travels or stays in a single spot.
- What type of pain you feel. Does it burn? Does it tingle? Is it a dull ache or a sharp, stabbing pain. The more descriptive you can be, the better. Patients often worry that their description will sound silly – it never does. Your pain is personal, and nobody knows it or can explain it better than you.