Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
It's a good idea to arrive well prepared for your doctor's appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major illnesses, cancer treatments or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For lymphedema, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of this swelling?
- Could there be any other cause?
- What kinds of tests do I need? And, do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is the swelling temporary or long lasting?
- How can lymphedema be treated?
- Are there any alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any medications I can take to ease the swelling?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any dietary or activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you first notice the swelling?
- Have you noticed any other signs or symptoms?
- Has the swelling been continuous or occasional?
- Does anything seem to make the swelling better?
- Have you noticed if anything appears to worsen your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
In the days leading up to your doctor's appointment, keep your swollen limb elevated as much as possible. More importantly, take steps to protect your skin from injury. The swelling from lymphedema might dull pain from an injury or from a heat source. Try to moisturize your skin daily, and don't use heating pads on the affected limb.
- Lymphedema. Society for Vascular Surgeons. http://www.vascularweb.org/vascularhealth/Pages/lymphedema.aspx?PF=1. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Lymphedema. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/lymphedema/healthprofessional/AllPages/Print. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Creager MA, et al. Vascular diseases of the extremities. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Mohler ER. Lymphedema: Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Lawenda BD, et al. Lymphedema: A primer on the identification and management of a chronic condition in oncologic treatment. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2009;59:8.