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made my first appointment, but what kinds of questions do i ask?

After much deliberating and talking to my friends and family, I have decided to take the first step in this long journey and made an appointment to get more information. However, I am wondering what might be some good questions to ask my doctor.... I know I have a lot already that have been raised by my friends at work, but what kind of things are important to ask?


  • I am pretty new to this forum, joined over Christmas 2013 as my doctor was petitioning my insurance company for approval for SCS. Now I am due to have the trial stimulator this week, so the last few weeks I have been back and forth asking my doctor and his team thousands of questions.

    I would read around the literature online (clinics post basic information leaflets about SCS) to find out the main points about SCS to begin with, and then look at your own pain profile and lifestyle. In my opinion this kind of evaluation might help prompt your thinking about the kinds of questions you need to ask, relevant to your own life and experience. Have you tried every other potentially helpful treatment that your physician can think of (probably yes by now, but still worth considering if there are other options)... What kind of results has your doctor had with other patients who have a similar diagnosis and pain profile as you? What kind of benefit do they think you might be able to expect if the SCS is successful (no guarantees, but nice to have an idea of what people typically experience). If you are nervous about hospitalisation, anaesthesia, surgery etc it might be important to you to walk through the hospital procedures for the surgery and find out more about these. For example, I wanted to know a lot about the recovery times and restrictions on my activity: my husband and I live in a city, four-storey walk-up, no car, I do the housework and cooking, I have a desk-based job, like to swim and cycle, and have no children. So I wanted to know what recovery would look like - would I be able to walk up stairs the day of discharge from hospital, what plans would I have to put in place to see me through the time of restricted activity during the trial, and following implant, when could I exercise/work? Your experience might be very different if you say, have other health issues/have a physically demanding job/have children etc etc.

    Of course the doctor should inform you of the protocol for going ahead with SCS (trial stimulation, and then on to a permanent implant if this is successful), possible risks and benefits of the procedure, the fact that SCS might not work for you, or if it does, it can be a hugely helpful tool in pain management, but is sadly not a cure for chronic pain. Reading the experiences of other users on this forum, and picking threads that had titles that seemed relevant to my pain, experience, and questions, was very informative for me. These discussions will likely prompt more questions for you.

    I would say don't be afraid to write your questions down in a list and take it with you to your appointments - it's often difficult to keep them all at the forefront of your mind when sitting in front of your physician, and the conversation may not cover everything you had thought of at home. Don't be reluctant to go back to your doctor and ask them things again and again - it's not bugging them, that's part of their job to make sure you are an informed patient who understands what they have signed up for. And don't forget, there are no 'silly' questions; it is your pain, your experience and your decision, so you have to be comfortable that you have explored every concern you have before you proceed with any treatment.

    Just some thoughts based on my own personal experience - I hope they help a little. And good luck as you start out on your journey!
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