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7 Important Considerations When Choosing A Doctor For Back Pain

Back pain affects most people at some point in our lives.

It can be caused by many conditions, ranging from a back sprain to more severe conditions such as slipped discs, a degenerated spine, infections and even bone tumours.

Many cases of mild back pain may recover naturally with rest, stretches, exercises or traditional treatments such as accupunture or tuina massage.

However if back pain is severe or persistent, it may be necessary to see a medical doctor.

Other than affecting a persons’ lifstyle, ability to work and social activities, a delay in getting proper professional evaluation and correct treatment may allow the condition to deteriorate, resulting in severe long term problems.

When a patient is suffering from pain and experiencing an urgency to get the correct treatment, can be difficult to find the most appropriate doctor for our condition.

 

 To help patients make an informed choice, here is a checklist of important considerations:

 

1) Is your doctor correctly qualified for your condition?

 

The different types of doctors who see  patients with back pain include family physicians, orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and even anaesthetists.

Most doctors will have their areas of expertise and preferred treatment methods such as surgery, injections, medications and new non-invasive solutions.

Each treatment method will likely have it’s risks and limitations.

Painkillers for example, may cause side effects and only provide temporary relief, while surgery would require a patient accept the possibility of operative complications.

2) Can you get an appointment quickly enough.

 

Every single day of suffering matters.
Is there a delay in getting an appointment to see your doctor?

Is there a wait for X-rays or MRIs needed to properly access your condition before starting the treatment?

Ideally you should get an appointment immediately, the next working day at the latest.

 

3) Is your doctor able to provide you the best possible care or more likely to offer standard recommendations?

 

As back pain can be a very difficult condition to treat, it is possible that first-line therapy or even second-line treatments may fail.

While there are many advances in back pain treatments available internationally, some new treatments are not yet widely available in Singapore.
Is your doctor likely to be able to offer you new treatments if you need them?

 

4) Are you limiting your options unnecessarily due to a worry about medical expenses?

It is well known that good medical care can be expensive.
But many people have medical insurance that can cover their medical care even if they see a private doctor.
Medisave can also sometimes be used.

 

Is your doctor likely to be constrained by additonal factors such as a need by their medical institution to control costs?

Will the doctor only offer “cost-effective” standard options when a new, more costly treatment could potentially give you better results?

5) Are the fees reasonable?

 

Even though you may have insurance and medisave, or be willing to pay for the best possible treatments, medical costs can vary greatly.
It is sometimes important to pay for quality and we should not always “choose the cheapest option”.

 

However an expensive doctor or hospital may not necessarily be “the best option” either.
Price is not always an accurate indication for quality.
It is important to select good, cost-effective care most suited for your condition.

 

6) Does your doctor have access to the latest medical technology for back pain?

 

The medical institution your doctor practices in may affect the treatment options you have available.
For example, shockwave and nucleoplasty are 2 increasingly popular solutions for back pain that not every doctor may offer.

 

 

 

7) Is your doctor of a high professional and ethical standard?

 

It is probably fair to say that almost all Singapore doctors are highly qualified with years of clinical training and experience.
For a doctor to qualify in Singapore, a quick google of all their profiles will likely reveal an impressive lists of academic qualifications and clinical experience.

 

What may not be as easy to learn online is how much your doctor cares for each patient and their standing among fellow doctors.

A third party with close knowledge and the benefit of knowing the experiences of past patients can be very helpful for you to make an informed choice.

For a recommendation on which doctor to consult for your condition, simply send us a message

(Our doctor recommendation service is FREE. If you optionally request extra services such as translation and medical transport, there may be a small fee involved)

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