You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in sports medicine or orthopedic surgery.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Get copies of any imaging tests you've had done, if possible. Ask your doctor's staff how you can get these forwarded to your doctor before the appointment.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For chronic exertional compartment syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What treatment do you recommend?
- What are the risks involved with surgery?
- What might happen if I don't have surgery?
- Are there alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow, such as avoiding certain activities or limiting the amount of physical activity I participate in?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover seeing a specialist?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- How soon do your symptoms start after you begin your activity?
- How quickly do your symptoms resolve after you stop your activity?
- Do you notice any weakness in the legs or feet associated with your symptoms?
- Do you experience any numbness or tingling?
What you can do in the meantime
Don't try to exercise through your pain. Limit your physical activities to those that don't cause pain. For example, if running bothers your legs, you may be able to swim. Use ice or take pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) to ease symptoms until you can see your doctor.
Feb. 20, 2013
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- Ringler MD, et al. MRI accurately detects chronic exertional compartment syndrome: A validation study. Skeletal Radiology. In press. Accessed Dec. 18, 2012.
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