Discectomy Pain

Tag - microdiscectomy

The Back Surgeries of Tiger Woods

In a previous post I listed the seven most famous professional athletes  to undergo back surgery, and as a followed up I’d like to shine a spotlight on the struggles of Tiger Woods, and his recovery from the crippling backpain that has sidelined his illustrious career.

Here’s a timeline of the spine procedures he has undergone:

April 2014 Back surgery No. 1: Woods undergoes his first back microdiscectomy to repair a pinched nerve that forces him to miss the 2014 Masters.

September 2015 — Back surgery No. 2: After playing in the Wyndham Championship, Woods undergoes his second microdiscectomy to remove a disc fragment that was pinching his nerve. “I’ve been told I can make a full recovery, and I have no doubt that I will.” Woods is forced to miss the Frys.com Open, Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup and his own Hero World Challenge.

October 2015 Back surgery No. 3: Woods has a follow up surgery to his September microdiscectomy. From all accounts the minor procedure is a success.

April 2017 —  Back surgery No. 4:  Woods withdraws from the Dubai Desert Classic in February and announces that he will undergo spinal fusion surgery in April leaving  doubts he will compete in the 2017 Masters. The surgery involved removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels. This allows the one vertebrae to heal to the other. The goal is to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to give the nerve the best chance of healing.

May 2017: Woods is arrested in Jupiter, Fla., on suspicion of driving under the influence. In a statement, Woods says alcohol was not involved and he had “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.”  It’s reported that Woods had 5 active drugs in his system upon his arrest.  “The report, prepared by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, says Woods, 41, had THC, the active ingredient for marijuana; as well as the painkillers Vicodin and Dilaudid; the anxiety and sleep drug Xanax; and the anti-insomnia drug Ambien in his system when he was arrested at 2 a.m. on May 29 about 15 miles from his home in Jupiter”.

July 2017: Woods tweets that he “recently completed an out of state private intensive program,” as he continues to seek professional help following his arrest for DUI on May 29. “I will continue to tackle this going forward with my doctors, family and friends,” the statement continues. “I am so very thankful for all the support I’ve received.”

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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