Back pain is extremely common for many Americans, and you if are suffering through any type of back pain, you need to keep on reading. If your back pain is new or chronic, there’s no need to ignore it or suffer through it.
You should be seeing your doctor promptly if you have back pain. If you are not satisfied with your doctor, you should always seek a second opinion or visit with a pain specialist.
So, what should you ask your doctor about your back pain? To begin with, there are two questions that should primarily stick out in your head.
1.What is the diagnosis?
Whenever you visit with your doctor, you should never be afraid to ask questions. No matter how silly the question might seem, you need to ask it in order to fully understand your medical situation.
If you do not know your diagnosis, ask your doctor directly. The answer should be clear and understandable. Your doctor should be able to make a diagnosis based on a combination of your symptoms, clinical findings and any x-rays or imaging you may have had done.
Understanding your diagnosis is very important for healing and recovery. It also helps you to not re-injure yourself as well. This also good to know if you need physical therapy.
2.How long will it take to heal?
Unfortunately doctor’s do not have a crystal ball. If they did, they would be even richer! No doctor or physical therapist should ever guarantee results, but it is also a shame if they do not give you at least a ballpark range for your healing abilities.
When a health professional says non committal responses like “every case is different,” and “these sort of things take time,” you should ask them to be a little more generous. These type of evasive comments show a lack of motivation and you deserve better than that.
An experienced, knowledgeable and good practitioner or therapist will be able to handle specific questions with specific answers. The last thing you want is a health professional that will not only offer vague responses, but then not be helpful should you hit roadblocks or plateaus.
How To Think Like a Pain Doctor?
Once you have a diagnosis and you’ve received the answers you are looking for with regard to your individual back pain situation, it is time to think like a pain doctor.
So maybe you didn’t graduate from an ivy league school with doctorate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help yourself and your pain. Here are some ways you can think like pain doctor to verify your pain symptoms.
1.Two Week Rule
Is your pain lasting more than 2 weeks? When you pain lasts that long, it is time to get it checked out. Your brain shouldn’t automatically assume new pain is cancer as lots of people seem to think is the case. In fact, most new pain you might experience would more likely be due to nerves, joints and bones.
The reason to wait two weeks is because most new pain due to your musculoskeletal structures will resolve within two weeks. There are exceptions to the two week rule of course. Check out rules 2,3 and 4 for those.
2.Acute Trauma Rule
Back pain (or any pain for that matter) that is the result of an acute trauma – think car accident, falling off a ladder, etc.- should always be checked out immediately. You should anticipate a physical exam, x-rays or other types of imaging.
3.Worst Pain of My Life Rule
Brand new and very severe pain is also warranted for immediate attention. If the pain is severe, but has also been documented before and is chronic, chances are the pain is not as severe as it might seem. Still have it checked out, but it may just be another flare up for you.
4.I Can’t Sleep Rule
Pain that doesn’t seem to improve with rest can be a cause for alarm. Your body should enjoy the sleeping process, so any pain that wakes you up at night or keeps you up, should be concerning.
Keep in mind that you should not always make assumptions based on just one of these rules, but use it as a guide to figure out how serious you pain just might be.
When it comes to your back pain, you should always be asking questions and having open conversations with your doctor. You should always know your diagnosis and the facts surrounding your recovery time. When it comes the actual pain, you can think through some of your symptoms just like your doctor will. Knowledge is power and that can lead you to a better outcome.