If your aching back has reached the point where you no longer experience pain relief with at-home remedies or physical therapy, or when pain blockers and other medications just don’t do the trick, it’s time to see a spine surgeon.
Once all conservative approaches are exhausted, spine surgery may be your last call for pain relief. The idea of having spine surgery can be daunting for two reasons—recovery and cost. Fortunately, minimally invasive surgical techniques and the latest in artificial disc replacement technology can address the recovery concern, as many patients now resume normal activities within a few weeks following surgery. If you’ve been told a spinal fusion is the solution to your lower back problems, consider seeking a second opinion, as alternative disc replacement has proven to be a superior solution.
- Artificial disc replacement doesn’t restrict motion in the spine. Fusion does.
- Faster recovery from minimally invasive techniques and less restricted motion post-surgery
- Lowered risk of degeneration at adjacent disc levels, reducing the need for future surgeries
- When performed in the U.S., ADR is proven to be a cost-effective and safe surgery
When pain blockers and other medications just don’t do the trick, it’s time to see a spine surgeon.
And speaking of cost, because of an increase in high-deductible health plans and a misperception that more advanced procedures are available outside of the United States, some chronic low back pain sufferers have sought treatment in other countries. Trying to save money by chasing a lower surgical cost elsewhere is known as global medical tourism, a fad that is quickly fading. Historically, patients in search of relief from their chronic low back pain were willing to pay from $40,000 to $80,000 to travel, often to Europe, for the latest technology. Before you pack your suitcase and dust off your passport, know that, because of next-generation artificial discs now FDA approved in the U.S., there’s no need to leave home, as Dallas spine surgeons have become extremely cost-competitive.
The very latest in lumbar artificial disc replacement, the activL® Artificial Disc, is now offered at several Dallas hospitals. Developed by Aesculap®, it’s considered to be the next evolution of artificial discs as it has an extra dimension of motion not found in any other product on the market. And motion is the key factor in experiencing long-term spine surgery success.
With this latest generation disc now available in the U.S., Dallas-based spine surgeons believe they can cost-effectively provide artificial disc replacement to patients, making traveling overseas for surgery unnecessary. The true costs of traveling outside of the U.S. for spine surgery are much higher than the price tag itself. Safety and post-operative care are also costs to consider. Remember, there are good reasons the FDA provides protections to U.S. citizens. “It’s quite difficult to find a surgeon here who would repair work done outside of the U.S.,” says Dr. Richard Guyer, a spine surgeon at the Center for Disc Replacement at Texas Back Institute. “You’re basically on your own upon return. This is another cost to factor in when considering traveling outside of the country, not only for spine surgery but any type of surgery.”
Dr. Guyer, along with his partners Dr. Jack Zigler and Dr. Scott Blumenthal, have worked with their facility to bundle their artificial disc replacement surgery costs and provide a lower-cost alternative to people in Dallas who chronically suffer from low back pain.
“It’s important to us to empower neck and back pain patients through awareness and education about motion preservation in spine care, as flexibility matters long term to your spine health,” says Dr. Blumenthal. “With artificial disc replacement surgery, a patient benefits with both current and long-term spine health. It’s a superior option to spinal fusion surgery, which is not natural to the spine.”
Education about the advantages of artificial disc replacement is one step toward pain relief. Determining if you’re a candidate is another. You may be a candidate for artificial disc replacement surgery if you have the following indicators:
- Lower back pain with or without leg pain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated lumbar discs
- Previous micro-discectomy surgery with continued pain
- Unsatisfactory results from conservative treatments
One of the primary indicators? Being told you need a spinal fusion, particularly if the comparison to disc replacement isn’t discussed. “If you have been told you need a spine fusion, you owe it to yourself to find out about artificial disc replacement,” said Dr. Zigler. “There are less complications and more predictable outcomes.”
If you have been told you need a spine surgery, consider visiting the activL® patient website to learn about the procedure and see a full list of surgeons offering the treatment in Dallas.