Whether you are newly diagnosed with an orthopedic condition, struggling with acute or chronic pain, or recovering from an injury, it can be overwhelming to navigate all the care and treatment options that are available.

You may be wondering whether to go for another test, undergo surgery, or pursue alternative treatment. Or, if you’re experiencing a prolonged period of orthopedic pain that does not seem to be getting better, perhaps it’s time to disrupt the status quo and have another professional to take a look.

There is no harm in receiving a second opinion. It may simply clarify that your care and treatment to date has been on the right track. It could help you see your medical issue and treatment options from another perspective, and even offer an alternative you weren’t aware of. Most importantly, a second opinion can offer peace of mind and encourage your active participation in getting the best health care possible.

And don’t worry about offending your initial physician. Any doctor worth his or her salt will support getting a second or even third opinion.

So what do you look for when seeking a second opinion?

For starters, it’s important you have a good orthopedist that you trust, and with whom you feel comfortable. Try asking your primary care provider for a recommendation. Friends and family are another good resource; ask them for recommendations, especially if they have the same or similar condition or know someone who does. Use all the tools at your disposal to solicit recommendations: social media is an easy way to get your request out there and watch the suggestions roll in.

Once you’ve got a name or two or three, check out the provider’s website. Find out if the conditions they treat include yours, and then look for patient testimonials. These can offer clues about what types of treatments worked for whom and under what circumstances.

Before your appointment, be sure to submit all relevant medical records (including recent test results) to the doctor’s office so that the doctor can provide the most informed second opinion possible.

When you meet the doctor, ask questions to make sure you understand a doctor’s objectives and philosophy of care. For example, one orthopedist may consider treatment successful when it addresses your primary concern, while another may want to also treat potential issues contributing to your condition. An orthopedic surgeon may encourage surgical options before you’ve had the opportunity to explore nonsurgical therapies first.

Remember: you are in charge of the decisions made regarding your health. Therefore, you owe it to yourself to feel comfortable with those decisions. And a big part of that includes seeking the thoughts of another orthopedic professional – either to confirm your current decision, or to help you change course.

Second opinions can make all the difference in your treatment options – and how you feel about them. The specialists at Florida Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics have helped many patients explore all their options.

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