How Much Does Back Surgery Cost?

Back pain is a common problem that varies in intensity and cause. It can be mild, moderate, or severe and can be caused by many factors. Stress from incorrect posture, sprains, small fractures, and weak bones (possibly from osteoporosis) are common instigators of less serious back pain. Compressed disk(s), pinched nerve(s), diseases and other conditions (some inheritable, others acquired) may be sources of severe, debilitating pain. Back surgery is only recommended when other treatments like traction and rehabilitation are either not working, or not an option. Operations on the spine come in many forms, and back surgery cost will vary accordingly. The main characteristic division of back surgery is between invasive and minimally invasive types. Invasive operations require the doctor to make incisions (sometimes large) in the back and move or strip muscles so that they can visually confirm the problem. The cost of back surgery will vary based on the type and extent of the operation, with easier operations available for $6,000-$8000, while more complicated types of back surgery cost between $15,000 and $30,000. Minimally invasive surgeries include laser back surgery and those surgeries that use tubes and/or tiny cameras to interact with the problem area (known as endoscopic back surgery).Minimal types of traditional spine operations use one very small incision to get to the source of pain and are typically on the low end of the price spectrum, though laser back surgery costs can amount to the tens of thousands of dollars. These costs are reflective of doctors’ fees only. The total expense of the surgery also includes facility fees, medication costs, and other possible factors.

Average Cost of Back Surgery

Back surgeries can be performed several ways, and for different reasons. Due to the variety of situations in which surgery on the back is required, the cost of back surgery is variable.

Major back surgeries, especially those with multiple sites of interest, may require fully invasive back surgery. The large amount of work required for these operations makes major back surgery cost an average of approximately $25,000. For certain conditions, relatively little work is necessary (though the pain may be no less than that of major spinal surgery candidates). For example, spinal compression may be alleviated with the removal of a small amount of material (though this condition can also be quite serious) and a pinched nerve may be freed with a small amount of effort. The cost of back surgery for circumstances requiring less intensive techniques averages around $7,000.

Laser Back Surgery Cost

Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) back surgery is considered minimally invasive but does not adhere to the low prices of its scalpel-based counterparts. The technology used behind this type of operation plus the severity of the damage to be treated can make laser back surgery cost upwards of $30,000. In almost all cases, laser surgery only requires a small incision(s) to treat the problem. During a typical procedure, possibly assisted by an endoscope (definitely by some sort of imaging), a small laser is directed at the tissue to be destroyed, such as a herniated disk and bone fragments causing compression. Laser spinal surgery carries its own risks, such as tissue and/or organ damage from a misaimed laser.

Alternatives to Back Surgery

A person may be hesitant about having an operation performed on their spine, and rightfully so. Back surgery has a common problem of not eliminating the pain that necessitated it in the first place. This is called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome, and it is usually due to the misidentification of the cause of pain.

For this and other reasons (such as back surgery cost), non-surgical treatment alternatives should be attempted before surgery becomes a consideration. Chiropractic realignment of the spine may alleviate back pain, as might the practice of acupuncture. These services come with a price, but are generally much more affordable than back surgeries. Other services that may act as a surgery substitute include physical rehabilitation, massage therapy, and the use of pain management medicine (be careful, they can be addictive and very expensive). Spinal decompression can be achieved without an operation, through the use of techniques such as traction and inversion therapy (hanging upside down). These alternatives may help you avoid pitfalls including the cost of back surgery, risks associated with operations (like infection or excessive bleeding), and the frustrating chance of pain continuing after an operation. If these options do not work for you, it may be time to consider some form of surgery.

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Back Surgery Options

Spinal operations come in a variety of types, and back surgery cost varies accordingly. Laser spinal surgery is known to be minimally invasive and may solve the issue without the need to strip the skin and muscle away from the spine. Laser back surgery cost is commonly more expensive than traditional surgery, sometimes starting at $30,000. Laser surgery may be assisted by the use of an endoscope to provide a clear internal view of the problem. Endoscopy may also be employed in more traditional methods of minimally invasive surgery, and the cost of back surgery tends to be much less for this type of operation.

Minimally Invasive Back Surgery

It is sometimes possible to perform surgery on the spine without the need for a large incision and tissue displacement. Operations that utilize small incisions (and possibly an endoscopic camera) are known as minimally invasive procedures. Back surgery cost for minimally invasive operations is typically cheaper than fully invasive surgeries. Recovery time is typically shorter, and the amount of discomfort after surgery can be greatly reduced (though this is not a guarantee) by using only slightly invasive techniques. Laser surgery is also considered to be minimally invasive, though it does not share the low price point of the more traditional alternative. The cost of back surgery using a laser can start as high as $30,000 for physician’s fees alone. In this type of procedure, a laser is directed at some area within the body that is to be destroyed, such as bone fragments that can cause compression, and/or degenerated tissues.