Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet or wear loosefitting clothes in the event you'll have an imaging exam.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For a suspected pinched nerve, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover seeing a specialist?
- 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.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. They may include:
- What are your symptoms? Do you feel pain, numbness, tingling or weakness?
- Where, specifically, are you feeling these symptoms?
- How long have you been experiencing these symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Is there an activity or position that triggers your symptoms?
- Is there an activity or position that relieves your symptoms?
- Do you have a job or hobby that requires you to make repetitive motions?
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- NINDS Pinched nerve information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/pinchednerve/pinchednerve.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of lower extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 12, 2010.
- Nerve compression disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec04/ch042/ch042f.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.
- Scott KR, et al. Etiology of carpal tunnel syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.
- Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00332. Accessed Nov. 13, 2010.
- Miller TT, et al. Nerve entrapment syndromes of the elbow, forearm and wrist. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2010;195:585.
- Piecyk ML, et al. Neurologic manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.
- Neuropathy (nerve damage). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/. Accessed Nov. 15, 2010.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of upper extremity peripheral nerve syndromes. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 14, 2010.