• Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR
  • Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR
  • Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR
  • Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR
  • Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR
  • Stride Strong Physical Therapy | Portland OR

Be An Advocate For Your Own Health

Have you been to the doctor's recently and felt rushed through the appointment? Did you see a assistant instead of your doctor? Did the provider barely look up from their computer? Did you feel like your provider really listened to you?

Doctors are overloaded. They are seeing more and more patients due to the fee-for-service model of our healthcare system. The standard time for a primary care visit is 15 minutes, which means you often will get a prescription for a drug instead of discussing ways to make a behavioral change such as increasing the amount you exercise or making nutritional changes.

If you go to the doctor with something like "back pain" you most likely will end up with a muscle relaxer or pain reliever of some type and often the doctor has not even touched or looked at your back. These treatments simply mask the pain instead of curing the problem. So, what can you do to get the best healthcare possible? Be an advocate for your own health by following these easy steps!

Ask the Right Questions
After being diagnosed with a particular issue it is very common to have questions. Make sure that you are asking the following:

  • "Why did this happen?": knowing what the CAUSE of the condition is extremely important when choosing a proper treatment. Make sure that the provider can tell you (or speculate) why this may have happened instead of simply treating the SYMPTOM.
  • "Do you have any information or research that will help me understand?": Most providers will be able to give you a handout or reference a research study or website that will give you more information on your diagnosis.
  • "Are there non-surgical treatment options for my condition?": For musculoskeletal disorders such as degenerative disk disease, research shows that surgery does NOT provider better outcomes that conservative treatment. So if surgery is the recommended treatment, ask about non-surgical options.
  • "What should I expect throughout treatment?": Whether it's starting a new medication or a new exercise plan make sure you know what normal responses are and when you should call the doctor to report a change in your symptoms.
  • "How can I contact you if I have questions?": Many providers are extremely hard to contact when questions arise. Make sure you know how they prefer to be contacted so you are more likely to get a response.

Do Your Own Research
It is very important to do your own research in order to understand your condition and take ownership your part of the healing process. Beware of "googling" your condition or symptoms, but definitely do some research using the National Institutes of Health website (https://www.nih.gov/) to look up recent research.

Give Honest Feedback
If you are unhappy with your provider or feel as if they aren't listening to you, speak up and let them know. Let them know if you think a treatment approach is not working for you. Let your PT know if an exercise on your program feels like it is hurting you more than helping.

Get a Second Opinion
If the provider doesn't have the answers for you that you wanted to hear or if you don't necessarily agree with the treatment approach, feel free to get a second opinion. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on a chronic problem will open up new healthy treatment approaches or catch something that was missed before.

These tips apply to every type of provider you see. You have a lot of control over your own treatment. Be an active participant in your care and you will get the absolute best out of your health care providers.

By: Dr. Katherine Finn DPT

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Physical Therapy Portland OR
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Alice Holland, DPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy, Director at Stride Strong Physical Therapy
Alice earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from USC in 2007, and have practiced Physical Therapy for 12+ years in the Outpatient Orthopedic Setting. Certified in ASTYM, she also has been a featured expert on Physical Therapy on numerous publications including health.com, healthline.com and yahoo.com.