The Essential Guide to Patient-Physician Etiquette: Building a Healthy Doctor-Patient Relationship

When it comes to healthcare, the relationship between a patient and their physician is of utmost importance. A strong doctor-patient relationship is built on trust, respect, and effective communication. Just like any other professional relationship, there are certain etiquettes that patients and physicians should follow to ensure a positive and productive interaction. In this blog, we will explore the essential guide to patient-physician etiquette, highlighting the key principles that can help foster a healthy doctor-patient relationship.


Be Respectful and Courteous

Respect and courtesy are fundamental in any interaction, and the patient-physician relationship is no exception. Patients should address their physicians using their proper titles, such as “Dr.” or “Professor,” and physicians should show the same level of respect towards their patients, addressing them by their preferred names or titles. Both parties should also be mindful of their tone and language when communicating, avoiding any disrespectful or derogatory remarks. Mutual respect is the foundation of a positive and trusting doctor-patient relationship.


Be Prepared and Provide Accurate Information

Patients should come prepared to their appointments with relevant information about their medical history, symptoms, and any medications or treatments they are currently taking. This helps the physician make an accurate diagnosis and provide appropriate medical care. Patients should also be honest and transparent when discussing their health concerns, lifestyle habits, and any other relevant information that may impact their treatment. On the other hand, physicians should actively listen to their patients, ask relevant questions, and provide clear explanations about the diagnosis, treatment options, and potential risks and benefits. Accurate and open communication is essential for effective healthcare decision-making.


Be Punctual and Respect Time

Time is precious, and it is important for both patients and physicians to respect each other’s time. Patients should arrive on time for their appointments and be mindful of the physician’s schedule. If there are any delays or changes in the appointment, patients should inform the clinic or hospital in advance. Similarly, physicians should strive to be punctual and respect their patients’ time by minimizing wait times and being efficient during appointments. If there are any unexpected delays, physicians should communicate them to their patients and apologize for any inconvenience caused. Respect for time shows consideration and professionalism from both parties.


Follow the Clinic/Hospital’s Policies

Every clinic or hospital has its own policies and procedures, and it is important for patients and physicians to adhere to them. Patients should familiarize themselves with the clinic or hospital’s policies regarding appointments, prescriptions, referrals, and other relevant procedures. Physicians should also follow the clinic or hospital’s protocols for documentation, billing, and other administrative tasks. This helps maintain a smooth and organized workflow and ensures that both patients and physicians are on the same page in terms of expectations and responsibilities.


Be Empathetic and Communicate with Compassion

Empathy and compassion are critical elements of patient-physician etiquette. Patients may be going through physical, emotional, or mental distress, and physicians should strive to understand and acknowledge their feelings and concerns. Physicians should communicate with compassion, using layman’s terms to explain medical jargon, and avoiding any condescending or dismissive attitudes. Patients, on the other hand, should also express their concerns and feelings openly and honestly, and ask questions to seek clarification or address any doubts. Compassionate communication helps build trust, reduces anxiety, and fosters a positive doctor-patient relationship.


In conclusion, patient-physician etiquette is essential for building a positive and effective relationship between patients and their healthcare providers. By practicing principles of respect, active listening, honesty, transparency, punctuality, professionalism, communication, and cultural sensitivity, patients and physicians can establish trust, foster effective communication, and work together towards optimal healthcare outcomes. Remember, the patient-physician relationship is a partnership, and both parties play a vital role in achieving the best possible healthcare outcomes. By working together with mutual respect and understanding, patients and physicians can navigate healthcare challenges with confidence and trust.

Workplace Injuries: FAQ’s With Our Experts


For those of you that do not know, worker’s compensation is a law that is established to provide partial medical care and income protection to employees who are injured or become ill from the job.Our fellowship-trained and board-certified team at NSPC answer some of the many Frequently-Asked-Questions by our patients.


Can a person have pain due to a workplace injury? 

It is possible to be injured at your workplace in the event of carrying out your job description activities. A correlation can be drawn based on the onset of pain symptoms after an injury was received at work. It is important to note the date of injury sustained and the date of symptom onset.


What are some of the common causes of workplace injuries that you’ve seen? 

Some of the causes of injuries sustained at one’s workplace can be heavy lifting, prolonged exposure to a trigger such as pressure or heat/ cold, fall, equipment accident, etc.


What are some of the common body parts you see affected by workplace injuries? 

According to our expert physicians, the common body parts affected are the lower back, neck, upper and lower extremities, and joints in workplace injuries.


Are medications enough to treat workplace injuries?

Depending on the etiology of the pain, likely not. However, medications commonly prescribed are short-term non-steroidal medications in association with other conservative modalities like physical therapy that are effective for workplace injuries. If these do not work, interventions should be tried.


Are these workplace injuries permanent? 

Every case is determined on a case-by-case basis, and a balance is necessary to assess work status. While a lot of the injuries may not be permanent, they have to be treated aggressively.


What should the patients be aware of in terms of paperwork? 

Patients need to be aware that some companies require certain forms filled out which they have to collect from their HR office and submit to the doctor. They must also be diligent in regularly updating their return-towork status and functional capacity notes at every visit with the physician. If there is an adjuster involved (which is the case in most WorkComp cases), their name and contact information should be provided along with a claim number (if applicable). The pain center works very closely with these stakeholders to provide you with the best possible care options. This two-way communication is necessary to get procedures approved as well.


What are the regular treatments that the pain center has offered their patients presenting with workplace injuries? 

We offer comprehensive evaluation and examination. Radiological evaluation is frequently needed and will be ordered. Interventional pain procedures such as injections, medication management, and physical therapy referrals are frequently provided for patients with workplace injuries. Some other aspects of conservative management tools are the provision of a back brace, compression stockings and a TENS unit.

Exercise Health and Pain Management

exercise health

Exercise is an important way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and sleep apnea. Health professionals recommend having 30 minutes of moderate-level intensity exercise per day. Some activities of moderate-level intensity exercise include brisk walking, cycling, rowing, and swimming especially for those with a sedentary lifestyle such as an office job that includes sitting for long hours. According to the CDC, moderate-intensity exercise has a heart rate between 64-76% of your maximum heart rate. 

However, many sports are considered to be vigorous-level intensity exercise, and unfortunately, the risk goes up with the increase in strenuous activity of the sport. Examples of vigorous-level intensity exercise include track, cross country, soccer, tennis, and basketball. 

The risk is even higher for injury if the individual is out-of-shape, doesn’t wear protective equipment, doesn’t warm up prior to exercise or cool down after exercise, or participates in contact sports such as football, wrestling, martial arts, or boxing. Not to say that vigorous-intensity exercises are harmful, they actually offer great health benefits including an adrenaline rush that comes with beating your personal record. It’s just that the risk of injury is even greater and typically requires outside supervision in the form of coaches and referees to monitor the game. 

Sports injuries are common to pain management, and pain management offers several treatment modalities to treat acute and chronic pain. Common overuse sports injuries include but are not limited to jumper’s knee, tennis/ golf elbow, sciatica, runner’s knee, and shin splints. You may be able to manage a minor sports injury at home with rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, if your sports injury fails to improve within a few days of at-home care, you should schedule an appointment with our specialists at Northwest Suburban Pain Center. Some of our treatment methods that are used to treat sports injuries include epidural steroid injections, joint injections, nerve blocks, PRP therapy, radio frequency ablation, and spinal cord stimulation. Please contact our offices in Arlington Heights and South Barrington if you have any painful sports injuries or are just looking for treatment of pain from previous injuries or conditions.

Debunking Common Myths Surrounding Pain Management

Myth: Pain management is contributing to the growing opioid epidemic. 

Fact: Interventional and conventional medication pain management actually reduces the need for long-term use of opioids. 


Myth: Pain management is only meant for patients post-surgery. 

Fact: In addition to post-surgical pain, there are modalities to treat chronic pain conditions such as spinal stenosis, radiculopathy, neuropathy, spondylosis, and osteoarthritis. Acute conditions from auto accidents and workplace injuries can also be treated. 


Myth: Pain can only be alleviated with addictive medications. 

Fact: Long-term medication management can include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (prescription-strength), neuropathic (nervecalming) medications, muscle relaxants, etc. 


Myth: Pain management specialists do not understand how pain is affecting my daily life and quality of life. 

Fact: Our pain management specialists spend time speaking with patients to see which of their pain generators (BTW, there can be multiple pain generators for one area of pain) is affecting their daily life the most and go in that order for targeting the causes. 


Myth: I don’t need to consult a pain management doctor if I had a sports injury, and should instead use home remedies longterm. 

Fact: Sports injuries may require conservative management to start off with, but most injuries can persist leading to the need for interventions. Without these modalities, pain can affect the quality of life long-term. 


Myth: MRIs and X-rays are not necessary after an injury or chronic pain.

Fact: It is necessary to start off with basic imaging to rule-out fractures and acute conditions. Advanced imaging such as MRIs and CT scans are needed to look for conditions such as spinal stenosis, facet cysts, degenerative changes of the discs, and EMGs for neuropathy and radiculopathy. 


Myth: Pain management uses interventions that provide short-term relief. Fact: Pain management uses interventions that provide targeted medication administration against the specific pain generator. This ensures that the full medication is used in a targeted way versus affecting the entire body. This has been found to be better than taking oral medications long-term which in turn affects the whole body. Myth: Physical therapy does not help with chronic pain. 

Fact: Physical therapy plays a great role in strengthening the core muscles, and offers modalities such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and home exercise regimens. PT works extremely well in combination with interventional management. 


Myth: Seeing a pain management doctor is difficult to fit into my busy schedule. 

Fact: We provide the shortest wait time for our patients depending on the intensity of pain presentation. Please call us today at 847-255-0900.

Auto Accidents and Pain


It is an unfortunate scenario to be involved in a car accident in the first place. The trauma of it all is in itself a turning point for most people. To add to this, physical trauma in the form of whiplash injuries as well as impact to the other body parts during the accident, culminating in a series of increased visits to the pain management physician’s office. The most common areas of pain we see secondary to a motor vehicle accident are the neck, lower back and shoulders. Most people are familiar with the term “whiplash injury”, but most incorrectly generalize this term with the entire body. This in fact is a physical re-demonstration of the cracking of a whip, especially in the cervical spine due to accidental impact. This causes progressive as well as chronic neck pain issues, which further radiates down the upper extremities in order to involve the nerve supply down the arm and into the fingers. Lower back and lower extremity pain issues are also a major area of either a new pathology that is generated as a result of that accident or aggravation in a pre-existing condition such as age-related degeneration or a slipped disc that was already affecting the patient, but now gets even worse in terms of pain presentation and neurological deficit. It is important that in the event of a motor vehicle accident, to seek immediate medical care depending on your situation. Regular follow-up with your primary doctor, and the need to see a specialist should be a priority. Most of these incidents end up in legal cases, to which the physician also has to be informed promptly. Interventional pain management techniques in addition to medication management are part of the treatment plan that is laid out for patients suffering from injuries they received during an MVA impact. 

Imaging of the body part involved can include x-rays, MRIs or CT scans that show the amount of injury caused to it and the best pain management technique to be used. In most cases, if there was a pre-existing condition for which the patient was previously treated, and after the accident there was aggravation in pain or weakness, it is important to get a comparison of the imaging from before the accident in order to see progression or change in pathology of the affected body part. The physician’s office diligently documents every detail that the patient presents with, and answers he/she provides during the intake of history. This in combination with physical examination findings, physician recommendation and observation are the deciding factors for the length of care the patient will require, how much conservative management including physical therapy, dose and duration of medications that will be needed in parallel to interventions. Some patients even end up in surgery upon failing interventions. At Northwest Suburban Pain Center, we accept auto cases with open arms and guide the patients through their journey of pain caused as a result of these accidents in a stepwise manner as well as working alongside attorneys. If you think your pain started or has gotten worse as a result of a motor vehicle accident you were recently a part of, it is time you called us to take care of you !

Low Back Pain and The Shopping Cart

Who says that only the current ongoing inflation is costing us the trip to the grocery store? The most common symptom of narrowing in the lumbar spine is when patients relate to us that when they go grocery shopping, the pain sets in and the cart comes to the rescue as they lean on it for some time until they are able to walk more. This is seen more and more commonly with central canal as well as foraminal stenosis in the lumbar spine. Dr. Bukhalo offers his insight into this by stating that in fact, his patients find themselves leaning towards the cart unconsciously as the pain flares up. Some of our non-shoppers describe this positioning as having to bend down while taking their evening walk and after a certain distance due to low back pain, while some who sing in the choir are not able to stand for very long and bend towards any support they can avail at the time.

When you think of how low back pain can affect such routines of our lives, it is important to think of how to manage this in the long term. The above body positioning examples are a way of relieving the pressure off the nerve root being compressed due to the narrowing in the spine. Similar is the action of steroids injected in the epidural space, where using their pharmacological qualities, they help reduce the pressure on the nerves overall. I like to put it as allowing the nerves to breathe a little. Always remember an irritated nerve is a nerve causing pain.

Such is the use of steroid-based epidural injections, or any other interventional procedure performed to ease the cause around the affected nerve. While we perform these on a daily basis, we adhere strictly to ensuring optimal placement of the needle using fluoroscopy, the comfort of our patient, sterilization, and most importantly establishing medical necessity. We see a lot of our patients wanting to “stay away from injections”, but if you are able to establish a direct correlation between your pain symptoms and the way it consciously and unconsciously affects your activities of daily living, you may want to reconsider if you want to live with constant pain, or make use of interventional state-of-the-art techniques to get better pain control. As Dr. Ahsan likes to explain to his patients, “medications throughout the day are just a band-aid” to your pain. I cannot emphasize enough how much this rings true to all our journeys with patients in pain.

If you think it is about time to address that nagging pain and dump the shopping cart, call us today!

Regenerative Medicine: Treatment By Our Very Own

Regenerative medicine is a state-of-the-art technique involving one’s own stem cells and growth factors. Stem cells are the body’s own materials—cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. There are 3 main types of stem cells: pluripotent stem cells, adult stem cells, and perinatal stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells divide into more stem cells or become any type of cell in the body. Adult stem cells are found in small numbers in most adult tissues such as bone marrow or fat, and they have a limited ability to give rise to various cells of the body. Perinatal stem cells are found in amniotic fluid and umbilical cord blood, and they have the ability to change into specialized cells.

One form of regenerative medicine is PRP or Platelet-Rich-Plasma. PRP uses a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. One advantage of PRP is that they reduce the need for anti-inflammatories or opioids. The injections are created from your own blood, so the body will not react negatively to them. During the treatment, a small sample of blood is drawn and placed into a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds to separate the platelets from other components. The PRP is then injected into and around the point of injury, which will significantly strengthen the body’s natural healing of the tissue damage. A local anesthetic is used in the area of pain, and then the PRP is injected under ultrasound or fluoroscopic guidance to stimulate and enhance healing.

When PRP is injected into the area of pain, growth factors can initiate the body’s natural healing response to repair damaged tissue and restore normal function. The growth factors that play a role in tissue repair mechanisms are platelet-derived growth factor, transforming growth factor, insulin-like growth factor, and epidermal growth factor.

PRP therapy does not immediately remove the pain. However, the results are long term and often permanently heal the patient. Research studies and clinical studies have shown that PRP is very effective at relieving pain and allowing patients to return back to their normal lives. The need for surgery can be greatly reduced by treating injured tissues with PRP.

For now, regenerative medicine is an area which is not covered by insurance plans, however the price is very affordable and patients can get some competitive pricing from most providers. Northwest Suburban Pain Center offers services covering the full scope of regenerative medicine for pain conditions and we have had excellent clinical response as well as feedback from our patients.

Healthcare Workers Go The Extra Mile

Just a week and a half ago, we bid farewell to a colleague who is moving to Texas. It was years of working together for a majority of the staff members, and the void is now a point of reflection for most of us who continue caring for our patients at NSPC. Work ethics, composure, and compassion are among the many required qualities of a healthcare worker. Due to recent COVID afflicted times, healthcare workers have been portrayed everywhere as heroes. It is really necessary to identify with this role at any level of the hierarchy. Dealing with the challenges when working in healthcare is always a shifting dynamic. Even in an outpatient setting, it is crucial for workers to meet the balance between the expectations of patients and the best possible treatment they can provide while staying realistic. Every patient brings to us a different story and every patient leaves us with a different experience to apply towards more to come. No matter what we are dealing with on a personal level when with the patient, that smile is always there so he or she feels better. When we lose good workers, we realize how much they contributed to the running of a healthcare setting. The open secret to patient care is a compassionate word and a patient ear that will listen. Moreover, some providers and their teams go the extra mile to invest in their patients’ care. Dr. Mohammad Ahsan is one such example; he prepares for his patients the night before so the care is well aligned to produce optimal results. This effort is recognized and applauded by the staff around him as well as it being apparent to the patient that their care is of utmost importance. When we see patients in pain, we offer a patient ear to their concerns, and narrations of how the pain has gotten worse, how they suffered a fall, or how the medication does not seem to work as well as expected. For this role, the gatekeepers are front desk staff as well as the clinical triage line, working tirelessly to provide the best possible response for patients. Dr. Yuriy Bukhalo and his team are very compassionate in offering immediate appointments depending on the patient’s pain level, listening to their concerns, and offering a personable foundation to the relationship. All our providers work diligently with referral coordinators to do their best in providing same-day interventions. Clinical offices, and especially specialist offices, are well known for a wait time before seeing the providers. We are no exception, and due to the fact that our providers spend an appreciable amount of time with patients individually, there tends to be a slight backup. A lot of our patients actually understand that since they in turn receive the appropriate time with their doctor. Dr. Meghan Bhave is well loved by her patients and is very concerned and compassionate towards her patients, their needs, and expectations. She and her team will not hesitate to go the extra mile so the patient feels comfortable. From a healthcare worker’s point of view, when we start our day, our focus is fully on our patients, and this is true for all levels of the hierarchy in the healthcare system, including non-clinical administration support staff. Patient care is the reason any issue that needs fixing is expedited at all levels of any healthcare organization. We care, is all we want to convey. 

Business Insights Presented by Shooa Mohammadi, MPH for Northwest Suburban Pain Center Northwest Suburban Pain Associates

Pain and Quality of Life

On an everyday basis, we witness patients in pain. Most come in later in their timeline of pain onset and one of the aspects that drives them to seek care is the impact of their pain on their quality of life. That one activity they absolutely love to do and pain comes in the way. Most of our patients play golf, some play tennis and some love to bake. When they have to think about the when and how of timing the activities they love to indulge in, because of the pain that sets in upon performing them, it is not invalidating to say, “Why!?” At the Northwest Suburban Pain Center, our providers are all board certified and fellowship trained to meet the expectations of their patients in the most profound manner. The goal is to ensure a better quality of life for our patients. What most patients are not aware of until they come to see a pain doctor is the fact that before contemplating surgery, there are interventional techniques to manage pain in one’s original anatomy. It can be your knee, hip, shoulder, spine, or muscle bodies. There is one more area that isagrowing part of pain management and that is regenerative medicine interventions which include platelet-rich plasma (PRP), amniotic fluid, bone marrow concentrate, adipose tissue, and much more by the day. While these procedures are not covered by health insurance, it is prudent to state that out-ofpocket pricing is very competitive today. If you want to find out if you are a candidate, please call us today for a consultation! We have seen success stories in our patients’ timelines with the clinic. In a moment of truth, pain management techniques do not cure you of the underlying condition. They only provide relief for a sustained period of time, until your body tells you it is in pain again. This is expected of the conditions that patients present with since a majority of pain conditions are irreversible except perhaps with surgery. However, the job of a pain physician is to make sure their patients can live with as little pain as possible before seriously considering surgery. 

The term quality of life is inherent to our lives overall; it is how you wake up in the morning, how you are able to sleep at night, how you can twist to get that shot on the golf course, how you can bend down on your knees to help your child. It is all the aspects of your 24-hour day. It is how you would describe to someone when asked, “How’s life treating you?”. It is the goal to achieve improvement in leading a productive life, day to day, as well as in the long run.

Treating Pain: Behind the Scenes With The Doctor


When patients walk in the door, most are literally bent in pain. There are so many conditions to treat and so many ways to help our patients, that it is relieving to know that pain management is one of the most growing fields of medicine, challenged by the variety of pain generators a single patient can present with. For instance, there can be one patient with multiple conditions for just the presenting lower back pain. It is due to stenosis in his/her spine, arthritis of the bony structures in the spine, irritation of the nerve at one spot or multiple levels in the spine, and each level supplies a different section of the limb or body part (also known as a dermatome). When pain physicians study your MRI or CT scan, they intricately study the various levels, pathology, and the best possible option to access the causative factor. It is fascinating to interact with patients to learn that the pain in and around their knees was actually coming from the spine!

Then follows an in-depth evaluation of imaging studies reinforced with physical examination findings and careful extraction of the most suitable treatment plan. Now, at times this treatment is not at all straightforward. As mentioned above, since there are multiple pain sources in just one individual, the physician’s job is to ensure maximum symptom resolution with the initial treatment. That is why multi-faceted treatments are offered one step at a time in a well-structured pain clinic. The common goal is to ensure patients in pain are offered all conservative and minimally invasive options, before contemplating surgery. All the physicians at Northwest Suburban Pain Associates come from diverse backgrounds and are extremely talented with regards to how pain is treated. They are trained in the most advanced techniques to date. All are fellowship trained, and board-certified and most carry the experience of over 20 years. While treatments initiate with epidural steroid injections to set a baseline assessment of how patient will respond, the physicians then go on to treat residual pain. All interventions are image-guided for optimal placement of medication; fluoroscopy and ultrasound, a combination of both at times. 

Patients are gauged then to be candidates for more intricate, yet minimally invasive procedures. These include, and the list is not restricted to MILD (minimally invasive lumbar decompression), sacroiliac fusion (for patients not responding to steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation in this area), SCS (spinal cord stimulator)/DRG (dorsal root ganglion) trial for patients with peripheral neuropathy and post-operative pain, Intracept, Spinal Simplicity/ Minuteman that helps patients with spinal stenosis. 

If you are in pain, call us today for immediate consultation!