When I saw the spine doctor last week, she asked me the question, What do you think is going to happen in the future? I gave her an answer on the spurt of the moment, but later after thinking about it for awhile, I wondered what this question is really supposed to tell her about me? Is this a standard question doctors ask these days?
A question like this can help the physician understand patients' hopes and beliefs. Patients used words like permanent disability, crippled, and not going to get better to describe their expectations may have a different outcome from those who say they expect to get 100 per cent better or have a cure soon. If a patient tells their doctor that their pain is from overdoing it, that may be different than saying the back is going or it's old age. By asking a question like this, it may help your specialist see what are some of your beliefs. Word choices are important -- both what your doctor tells you about your condition and what you tell your doctor you believe about your problem. Using words that focus on healing, repair, and recovery rather than focusing on degenerative aspects of the spine may actually foster a better outcome in the long-run.