It happens more than often than it should.
You go to the dentist and while you are there for your teeth, you can’t stop thinking about the fact that you have not been eating well or that sleeping more than 5 hours a night is a pipe dream.
Of course, you are not going to mention this to your dentist because why would they care and it does not seem to be relevant to dentistry. While this may be true, it is still important to you and could be the cause of your toothache vs. the other way around.
You walk out of the dentists office and while you may now have medication for the toothache, you still have not had your deepest concern addressed—your sleep and lack of appetite.
How could this have gone differently?
As a healthcare practitioner, we specialize in our respective fields, but we must also consider what may be out of our scope depending on the needs of our clients.
For example, if I have a client come in with low back pain but I don’t ask them what it has limited them in doing, I may not find out that they have cut out certain foods that lead to back pain which means that I should refer them for a consult with a Dietitian or Gastrointestinal specialist.
With all that said, all healthcare practitioners should be trying to make an accurate diagnosis but, more importantly, figure out how the clients life is effected by it and what lifestyle factors could be the cause in the first place.
Here are 4 questions that ever healthcare practitioner should be asking you but isn’t:
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU GET?
Sleep is one of the most important things that we can do for our body. It helps with mental clarity, recovery, mood, energy and a whole host of other benefits. On the flip side, when enough sleep is not being had, it can increase pain sensitivity, injury risk, and stress levels. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to decreased quality of life.
Why don’t more practitioners ask about this? I don’t have the answer to that, but I can tell you that anecdotally, when my clients get better sleep, they are happier and their pain levels are significantly lower from when they are not able to sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping, please, mention it to your healthcare provider.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL?
This seems like a simple question but it is important. How often do you go in for an appointment and are told what you have to do but now how it relates to what your goal is? How a healthcare practitioner advises someone who wants to run a marathon is going to be different than someone who wants to walk for 20 minutes a day with his dog.
Know what your goal is and make sure that you mention why it is important that you get back to or get closer to that goal. Saying you have knee pain is one thing, but explaining how that knee pain does not allow you to play with your 5-year-old son has more depth and understanding.
HOW MUCH WATER ARE YOU DRINKING EACH DAY?
Often times, we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The second we experience discomfort or we are not seeing fitness results, we expect the worst.
Before assuming lack of results or progress are due to a rare virus you may have acquired 10 years ago while you were in college and shared a Sprite with your roommate called Spritewithyourfrienditis. First, start with the simple question——are you drinking enough water?
Like sleep, water is essential for optimal function of our bodies. We are mostly made up of water, so, you can imagine how poorly we are going to operate if we don’t have one of our bodies most important sources of energy.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING ON?
Seems odd that one would seek out a healthcare practitioner only to be asked what they thought was going on, right? Not really.
A mentor of mine used to say “If you listen long enough, the patient will always give you the answer.”
So many of clients do not realize that as they tell their story, they are making my job easier by telling me what is most likely the cause of why they have come in for a consult.
Of course, this does not happen every time but every healthcare practitioner should give their client an opportunity to explain what may have happened. We may be good at what we do, but all the tests and measures we perform are nowhere near as important as a client history and their belief of what may have lead to why they have sought out a consult.
If you are a practitioner, don’t make this mistake.
If you are an individual seeking out a consult with a practitioner, make sure you tell your story. If you are not given the opportunity to, find a new practitioner.