Discectomy Pain

Tag - herniated disc

7 Famous People With Bad Backs

So…in a moment of self-pity, you googled ‘famous people with bad backs’ and this blog-post popped up.  It’s completely understandable. Many of us want to feel like we’re not the only ones going through this –  and in some strange way, knowing that President John F Kennedy had a horrible spine condition helps us realize that perhaps we can also accomplish great things despite days when we’re hunched over like Quasimodo.

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Total Disc Replacement Surgery

Like many people reading this blog, along with bulging discs and Spinal Stenosis, I have Degenerative Disc Disease.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this contributes to my overall level of chronic pain, but generally speaking, DDD causes a lot of stiffness and instability.  I wake up with an achey lower back, and spend most of my day trying to minimize the amount of bone on bone (vertebrae – L5/S1) pounding it takes.

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Spinal Decompression Therapy (IDD)

As spine treatment centres pop up in my city, I’ve noticed that many of these facilities (usually run by chiropractors), offer Spinal Decompression Therapy to relieve pressure on herniated or degenerative discs.

The basic premise of SDT involves laying on some sort of traction table, hooked up to a computer with electronic pulses stimulating certain muscle groups.  By taking pressure off the disks, which function like gel cushions between the bones in your spine, the bulging or herniated disks can retract, taking pressure off nerves. With less pressure,  the spine can move more freely increasing the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids which promotes healing.

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Epidural Injections

On the recommendation of a neurologist, I began epidural treatments for back pain in early 2013.  These were injections of Depo Medrol used to reduce swelling, and inflammation in my lower back.  After several treatments that were largely ineffective, I stopped with the injections and looked for other forms of pain relief.

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Spinal Stenosis Video (Animation)

In 2011, as my neurosurgeon was explaining the results of the laminectomy, he casually mentioned that I had condition known as Spinal Stenosis, most likely congenital and most likely the cause of my Sciatica.  Of course, this was all news to me and I wondered why it hadn’t been noticed on the MRI scan.  Regardless, I had a new back ailment to add to the list and one that laminectomy should partially fix.

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Discectomy Cost: The Price of Pain Relief

Can you really put a price on a healthy back ?  You certainly can.  And if you’re suffering from a herniated disc it’ll cost you anywhere between $20k – $80k depending on your surgical team and the type of surgery you choose – minimally invasive costing less.  For patients that have a good insurance policy, the deductible is pegged at somewhere between 10 to 40 percent of the cost of the procedure.

Some forum users at Spine-Health and eHealth provide a few facts and figures into the cost of their surgery as well as cheaper options such as signing up for clinical trials.  “Average national costs were about $14,000 for a single-level ACDF procedure and $26,000 for a single-level PLF. (These total figures reflected combined professional and facility costs.) Average cost for KA was about $13,000, increasing to $22,000 for TKA in patients with accompanying other major medical conditions.”

Hub Pages provides an example of the costs associated with Microdiscectomy.

Example: Summary of Microdiscectomy Cost

Description
Amount (USD)
Hospital Services:
Anesthesia
1128.00
Medical Supplies
1969.00
Pharmacy
978.50
Radiology
646.00
Recovery Room
2466.00
Surgery
4586
Surgeon’s Fee:
6329.00
Anesthesiologist’s Fee:
1890.00
TOTAL CHARGES:
$19,992.25
Source: Fees for microdiscectomy performed in a Chicago-area hospital; Feb. 2012
From this list at Pricing Healthcare, you can see that prices for discectomies vary from state to state in the US, ranging between $8000 – $11000. However, make sure you read the ‘Notes’ at the bottom of each list to understand exactly what’s covered.
More recently, this study through the University of Utah shows the varying costs of spinal fusion, anterior cervical discectomy/fusion and posterior lumbar fusion.  And Becker’s Spine Health breaks down the cost between a discectomy and laminectomy.

Fortunately, for those of us living in Canada, microdiscectomy cost is covered by the government.  Universal health is definitely one of the major benefits of living North of the 49th parallel.  Perhaps another option for those Americans looking to get a microsurgery done sooner rather than later.  Here’s Warner Nickerson’s story of getting the procedure done in Croatia.  And if you live in France, this study states a discectomy costs around $650 US (approx. 4000 Francs).

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