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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Orthopedics and Injuries > Broken Back

Broken Back Cost

How Much Does a Broken Back Cost?

low costWith Insurance: Copays & Coinsurance to Out-of-Pocket Maximumaverage costNon-surgical Treatment: $5,000-$15,000+high costSurgical Treatment: $50,000-$150,000+
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  Typical costs:
  • Without health insurance, diagnosis and non-surgical treatment of a broken back/fractured vertebrae/spinal fracture typically cost from $5,000 to $15,000 or more, depending on the treatment. A spinal X-ray costs an average of $280, according to[1] , but some radiology centers charge $3,000 or more. A typical doctor fee for non-surgical treatment of a fracture would include $90 to $200 for the office visit and from $250 to $950 for treatment, according to Carolina Orthopaedic Surgery Associates[2] . A custom-made hard back brace -- often recommended for spinal fracture patients rather than an off-the-shelf brace -- can cost $1,250 to $2,000 or more. And percutaneous vertebroplasty, a procedure in which bone cement is injected into the fractured area of the bone, which can be used in certain types of fractures, costs an average of about $6,085, not including the doctor fee, at the Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center[3] .
  • Without health insurance, diagnosis and surgical treatment for a broken back/fractured vertebrae/spinal fracture can cost $50,000 to $150,000 or more. For example, at Baptist Memorial Health Center in Memphis, insertion of a spinal fixation device costs an average of $46,931, not including the surgeon's fee. And spinal fusion, which is used in some cases for certain types of fractures, typically costs $80,000 to $150,000.
  • A spinal fracture would be covered by health insurance. With health insurance, typical expenses include doctor visit and X-ray copays of $10 to $40 each or more, a durable goods copay or coinsurance for a back brace, drug copays for pain medication and, if surgery is required, coinsurance of 30 percent or more. The total could reach thousands of dollars or the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.
Related articles: Broken Clavicle, Broken Arm, Broken Sternum, Back Surgery

What should be included:
  • In non-surgical treatment for a spinal fracture, the doctor typically will prescribe a back brace, pain medication and rest, along with follow-up visits. If a custom-made back brace is required, an orthotist will make a plaster cast of the body, and that will be used to create the brace.
  • Another non-surgical treatment, percutaneous vertebroplasty, sometimes is used for compression fractures, most commonly caused by osteoporosis. In an outpatient procedure that requires local anesthetic, the doctor, guided by imaging, injects bone cement into the fracture.[4] offers an overview of the procedure. And[5] provides information about a recent study that questioned the effectiveness of the procedure, along with a spine doctor's response.
  • Surgical treatment for a spinal fracture/broken back varies depending on the type and severity of the fracture. In spinal fusion, one type of surgery commonly used to treat a broken back, the surgeon will make an incision to access the spine, then implant a bone graft and hardware to hold two vertebrae together. Spinal fusion usually requires general anesthesia and is an inpatient procedure that requires up to four days in the hospital. About six weeks off from work is required. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons[6] has a spinal fusion overview.
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons[7] has an overview of the most common types of spinal fractures and the typical treatment for each.
Additional costs:
  • If physical therapy is required, at $50 to $75 per hour, it could add thousands of dollars to the final bill.
  • Some specialists and hospitals offer discounts for uninsured/cash paying patients. For example, Southern California Orthopedic Institute offers discounted services for cash-paying patients, and Northwest Community Hospital Orthopedic Services Center[8] , in Chicago, offers discounts for prompt payment.
  • Some free clinics, such as Community Health Free Clinic[9] in Chicago, provide orthopedic or neurological specialty care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[10] posts a directory of federally funded health centers; if the nearest clinic doesn't offer orthopedic care, ask for a referral.
Shopping for a broken back:
  • Both orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons can treat spinal fractures and perform spinal surgery. The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery[11] offers an orthopedic surgeon finder by city, state or zip code. Or, the American Board of Neurological Surgery[12] offers a doctor locator.
  •[13] posts an article on choosing between an orthopedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon.
  • Risks of surgery for a spinal fracture include blood clots, development of pneumonia and/or pressure sores, bleeding, nerve damage, a spinal fluid leak, infection and even death.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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