Why are things stalled out in the industry over the acceptance of artificial lumbar disc replacement ?
In 2003, I was patient ONE , a 40 year old back pain sufferer enrolled in the Really Cool Study . I withdrew from the study after being randomly selected a the “gold” standard fusion because as a Mechanical Engineer, I firmly believed that restoring motion was as important as relieving pain for two reasons; stiffness and the risk of future adjacent disc level degeneration. I waited and waited for the next five years for an ALDR. I appealed and wrote letters but got zero response from my TWO managed care providers. Then finally in 2008, I felt I couldn’t take the pain any longer and underwent a double lumbar fusion of L5/S1 & L4/5 at Hospital in New England . The sadist part of the story is after a mere 18 months , I now have adjacent level spinal degeneration of L3/4.
I need to understand where the future is for me in the next 2-5 years.
I can’t help but feel regrets with the health care system’s reluctance to provide insurance coverage for ALDR. This is something that I will most likely have to deal with the rest of my life.
I still experience tremendous pain while sitting down. I would like to understand what options are left to restore or preserve motion at this point in my lumbar spine. Is there any further medical procedure possible to either replace either L4/5 and or L3/4 with ALDR’s in an attempt to stop post fusion adjacent level disc degeneration. At this point my chips are ALL IN and I am willing to be a guinea pig. Quite honestly when I hesitated and withdrew from 2003 Really Cool study. I thought that there was nearly some possibility of adjacent disc disease maybe when I was 60 years old or something but never in my wildest dreams would I think I would hit the disc degeneration jackpot so soon after surgery.
I really think my case needs to be reviewed or referenced in some study or publication to turn the table on the subject of spinal fusion and Artificial Lumbar Disc Replacement. I feel that my life has been directly affected by the misguided opinions that ALDR are not and significantly better than Lumbar Fusion. I disagree and I offer my case as empirical evidence and an intuitive mechanical design fundamentals that fusing my back was not the best option as compared to restorative motion. The only way anything will ever change in this “near perfect” US health care system is if stories like mine are uncovered and insurers are accountable for their decisions regarding my care and the cost to my life and how about the potential cost to the health care system.
I don’t believe the industry is effectively managing care or cost !
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