Sympathetic doctors

Question: I’ve only been to a doctor about my hands twice – one said she couldn’t really help because I wasn’t local so she couldn’t refer me to anyone – fair enough, but she gave off an air of thinking I was talking rubbish and should just sit up straight at work – fair point, but I know all that, I need fixing! The other one, my current GP, wanted me to try squeezing a stress ball a thousand times a day. I was going to do that but then I joined these mailing lists which had all sorts of other wisdom – I could tell that she didn’t really know about RSI though because although I was pretty vague about my symptoms because they come and go, she didn’t think the fact that I also have a stiff back and neck had anything to do with it. Anyway, I haven’t been back since.

Has anyone managed to go to a previously unsympathetic/uninformed doctor with more information and get them to be constructive? Would it be horribly rude of me to print off a huge wodge of info from various websites about CTS, Guyons, DeQ, etc and walk in there saying ‘this is what you have to know – do I have any (or all) of these?’ – I think they’d be cross. So how do I tackle it? I’ve been writing down every symptom. I have so this time I won’t be so vague, but the truth is I ignored her last time and instead of going back after 6 weeks, it’s been 3 months so far! What should I do?

Answer: Although I’ve generally had sympathetic doctors (to a certain extent!) I’ve not experienced someone suggesting a stress ball! Anyway, the British Medical Journal has released papers recently about the role patients have in deciding a prognosis. It has concentrated mainly on saying that doctors need to change their understanding of the doctor – patient relationship and be more accepting of the fact that patients can become easily informed nowadays. At the same time it does highlight the problem that info from the internet etc… Isn’t necessarily correct. Having said all that, many doctors have been trained to believe they are correct and are still unwilling to accept that patients too can be involved in the decision making process. In the past I’ve used the following tactic!

  1. Get the information and make a self diagnosis.
  2. List the symptoms I have and explain them in a way that helps the doctor make a generally correct diagnosis (e.g. pains in the wrist, extending into the shoulder, bad workstation setup, and let of keyboarding.) The GP should then have alarm bells ringing.
  3. They may suggest some appropriate treatment or refer you to a person with a keener interest in the area.
  4. If all fails, change your GP until you find someone.

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