A visit to your doctor can feel overwhelming, especially when there’s a lot of information to exchange. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your next visit:

  • Write down your concerns. A prioritized list of questions or concerns helps the physician recognize and address your major needs. Be realistic about what can be covered during a brief office visit.
  • Prepare a medication list. Make a list of all your current medications (including non-prescription drugs and herbal remedies) and bring a copy for your doctor. Include strength, dose, directions, reasons for taking each medication, how long you’ve been taking it, and the prescribing physician.
  • Be specific about symptoms. For example, is your back pain to the right or left side, lower or mid-back? Is it sharp or dull, constant or intermittent? How long have you been experiencing the pain? Have you done anything to alleviate the pain, such as taking a medication?
  • Bring a friend. Bring an objective family member or friend to your appointment. He or she can help you recall the answers to your questions and any other information your doctor provided.
  • Get comfortable. Wear loose-fitting, easily removed clothing and shoes. The more relaxed you are, the more you’re likely to get from the appointment.
  • Plan ahead for multiple needs. Office visits tend to last only 15 to 30 minutes. If you have several major concerns, let your doctor’s office know about them when you call to make your appointment. You may want to request an extended visit or make two appointments.
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