How to Talk to Your Doctor About Swelling

How to Talk to Your Doctor About Swelling
How to Talk to Your Doctor About Swelling

Your doctor might be your strongest ally in finding appropriate treatment for your swelling. Consider making an appointment specifically to discuss your swelling rather than as part of another visit so that you have enough time to get the help you need.

Be prepared

Being prepared for your appointment can make all the difference. Any time you can direct your doctor to specific information you help them get a clear picture of what you’re experiencing. Important information to discuss includes:

  • Your symptoms: How long you’ve experienced them and if they get better or worse
  • Your treatments: What you’ve tried and what effect it had on your condition
  • Your medical events: Whether and how an incident, trauma, or procedure impacted your symptoms

Voice your concerns

It also helps to give your doctor an understanding of your specific concerns. What do you think might be happening? What type of outcomes are you hoping for? Some examples might include:

  • I’m concerned this might be lymphedema or lipedema: Use information from a trusted online source to do a self-check. Be prepared to let your doctor know why you think the diagnosis might be a fit — your doctor may not see many cases like yours.
  • I’ve tried several treatments and I’m not getting relief: Episodic swelling normally responds to treatments like elevation or rest or improves over time, so if you’re not finding relief, share this with your doctor.
  • I think this is getting worse: Swelling symptoms could indicate one of several conditions that progress over time. If you feel like your condition is getting worse, treatment is critical to prevent lasting damage.

Know what to ask for

Your doctor may have suggestions for next steps. Whether or not that’s the case, it’s a good idea to have specific outcomes to ask about. For example:

  • Can you refer me to a specialist? A specialist can more quickly diagnose causes for chronic swelling, including less-common conditions.
  • Is there anything more you can do for my swelling? Some types of in-office treatments, like specialized massage therapy, or fittings for prescription compression garments, can provide immediate relief regardless of, or while you wait for, your diagnosis.
  • Is a pneumatic compression device a good option for me? Although normally prescribed for patients diagnosed with lymphedema or lipedema, at home treatments like PCDs are an easy and effective way to treat swelling in your own home and on your own schedule. Many insurance plans cover PCDs, and patients report extremely high satisfaction rates even before they get a concrete diagnosis.

By gathering data daily and learning more about how your condition fits different diagnosis and treatment profiles, you can make your doctor’s appointments more productive — and find the relief you need.