12 Post-Injury Questions to Ask Your Physician
Learn these smart and easy tips to become a more empowered patient.
It’s common to get confused or overwhelmed when meeting with a physician or sports medicine professional. While the appointment is typically less than 20 minutes, you often get bombarded with information and medical jargon that makes the average person’s head spin. Between hearing specifics about your injury, diagnosis, and new treatments and/or medical recommendations, it can be easy to forget to ask an important question or get clarity on a treatment or exercise regimen. And some things you thought you understood in the office, you may not be so sure about later. Can you relate?
Carlos Jimenez, DPT, SCS, CSCS, Director of Sports Medicine at Canyon Ranch, is on a mission to help. After witnessing his mother return from doctor appointments confused about diagnosis, treatment plans, or whether medicines had side effects, Jimenez became passionate about helping her advocate for herself. Below, he shares the best ways to go and leave a doctor’s office so you walk away with the clarity needed.
Be An Active Participant
Sometimes people feel more comfortable listening to and not questioning the professional. But, “you as a patient have to be part of the process. It’s a two-way street,” says Jimenez.
“It's imperative that the diagnosis has been managed accurately early in the process, and for the patient to understand what’s going on with the injury, why it hurts, what the risk factors are, and exactly what is required for rehabilitation.”
One way to better remember information from your medical provider is to repeat back what is said while in the office, says Jimenez. This will help you better understand your injury and decrease stress and anxiety toward your situation.
Start Out Prepared
Before going to see your physician, physical therapist, or sports medicine professional, Jimenez recommends bringing these questions to your appointment:
During the visit:
- Can you tell me how you think this injury happened and the best ways I can prevent it from happening again – especially if it’s from an activity I continuously do.
- Will I aggravate my injury with specific weekly chores such as taking out the trash, washing the car, walking the dog, picking up a toddler from the crib, sweeping, vacuuming, carrying groceries, etc.?
After the diagnosis:
- Is my specific diagnosis ironclad, or could something else be going on? Can you explain the pain I’m feeling?
- Do I need to lose weight to alleviate my pain?
- If this injury is from overuse or repetitive movements, what can I do to reduce my risk for future injury?
- What is your estimated time for my recovery?
- If my injury requires me to rest, what exercises can I still do to stay in shape and get in a little cardio? For instance, if the diagnosis is a sprained ankle, can I walk or ride an exercise bike? With a knee injury, are there seated upper-body weight exercises I could during this rehab period? If it’s a shoulder or elbow injury, could light swimming help?
- What modifications can you suggest so I can still exercise the same area safely?
About your prescription:
- Do these medications or supplements have side effects or disadvantages?
- Are there nutritional supplements or dietary changes you’d suggest so that I keep muscle mass and not gain weight during this rehab period?
- Can you show me the physical therapy exercises again or send me to a website with videos I can follow?
- If pain medication or other medical treatment is recommended, can it be individualized so I’m not taking the medicines as long and so there are no conflicts with other supplements or medicines I may be taking?
Finally, Jimenez suggests you share any unsuccessful experiences you’ve had with previous injuries and treatment plans. This will help the sports medicine provider better individualize your treatment and make it more successful.