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Advantages of Medical Tourism

Medical Tourism

Can you really travel to a foreign destination for a vacation, and get quality medical attention and surgery at the same time? That’s the question many people raise when the subject of medical tourism comes up. The skepticism is understandable, given the images many people have of some of the locations associated with medical tourism –India,Thailand,Singapore,Latin America and Eastern Europe. But there are indeed many advantages medical tourism can offer that make it well worth considering for some people. Of course the quality of medical care should always be the primary consideration, and the fact is there are first-rate medical facilities and physicians, surgeons, and other health care professionals in all the places mentioned above, as in many other areas of the world, such as Germany, the UK,Turkey,Israel, and Cyprus. Given the fact that the quality of medical care can be excellent, and the cost often well less than half of prices in your own country, medical tourism can indeed make great sense. The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported the case of a self-employed carpenter and cardiac patient who faced charges ranging from $40,000 to $200,000 vs. less than $7,000 in India for a cardiac procedure. The carpenter had the surgery in New Delhi and the operation was a complete success.

Another benefit of medical tourism is that you can get treatments that have been proven effective and used in parts of the world for years but have not yet, or only recently been approved for use in your country. The TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) procedure, performed in association with spinal decompression surgery, is an example of a procedure that has been used extensively in Europe. TOPS is an alternative to spinal fusion back surgery that preserves the full range of motion between the individual vertebral segments, unlike spinal fusion.

So go ahead and consider medical tourism. For some patients and medical conditions, it could be the ticket to quality, low cost healthcare.

How long after a spinal surgery before I can return to athletics?

Surgery Recovery

Near the top of the list of questions from almost every spinal surgery patient is how long they will have to wait following surgery before they can resume their normal activities. When those normal activities include athletics – golf and tennis, bowling and the like, pastimes that put tremendous strain on the back – the answer becomes more complex. The factors influencing the time before they can get back in the game include the level of the patient’s physical condition and health. Just because one engages in strenuous physical activity doesn’t mean he or she is in good physical condition or healthy. Recovery times are faster for surgery patients in good physical shape because their bodies heal faster. Of course the operation itself will play a large role in deciding when you’ll be back on the tennis courts, golf course, taking a job or engaging in a simple walk. The post-operative physical therapy program also plays a large role. But the type of back surgery is the primary factor affecting the time required to get back into sports action.

Athletics

In some cases the surgical treatment chosen for a given spinal condition will affect not only the time needed to get back on the playing field, but the degree to which you will ever be able to recover your old form. Take the stabilization procedure following spinal decompression surgery, for example. Spinal decompression is performed to relieve pressure on nerves within or emanating from the spine caused by conditions including spinal stenosisspondylolisthesis, and other degenerative changes, or as a result of spinal cord traumaSpinal fusion back surgery has been the primary stabilization procedure. But the fused vertebrae lose their independent motion following stabilization, and often patients are restricted from physical activity for up to 6 months while waiting for the biological fusion process to complete. However, today the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion. The TOPS System, a surgical implant, stabilizes the spine while preserving each vertebra’s independent motion – and good news is that there are no restrictions on your physical activity after surgery. That’s going to ensure better performance whenever it’s time to get back in the game.

Taking Vitamins Before Surgery

Vitamins

Spinal surgery is stressful on the body. Anyone who is having spine surgery needs to prepare his or her body for the surgery and recovery period by getting in shape, getting the proper amount of rest, and following other healthy habits. Taking vitamins are among the steps that physicians often recommend to help the body heal and recover from surgery as quickly as possible.

Back surgery patients should begin taking vitamins as far as a year in advance of surgery, if possible. A well-rounded multivitamin and mineral supplement with B12, vitamin E, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are what your body needs to heal. Whole food vitamin and mineral supplements are often recommended because they are made from food rather than synthetic vitamins, and thus are easier for the body to utilize.

Vitamin C is another important vitamin to have on your pre- and post-surgery vitamin list. Vitamin C promotes healing and helps the body defend against illness, which can greatly interfere with surgical recovery. Vitamin A is another important healing vitamin. It protects cells and helps build new tissue, a vital part of surgical recovery.

Some types of vitamins, minerals and supplements should be avoided, as they can contribute to complications such as excessive bleeding. You should have a discussion with your spine surgeon about what vitamins you should and shouldn’t take as part of your early surgical planning.

Just as choosing the right vitamins can help speed recovery, so can choosing the right surgical procedure with the best outcomes. For example, spinal stenosis, slipped disc, spinal cord injury and a host of other spinal problems are often treated with spinal decompression surgery to relieve symptoms of nerve compression. In the past, spinal fusion back surgery was routinely performed in conjunction with spinal decompression to stabilize the spine, though fusion eliminates the natural, independent motion of the fused vertebrae. But today the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System, an advanced implant device, offers a surgical alternative that has been proven in clinical studies around the world to provide better outcomes than spinal fusion. So by all means take vitamins to speed your recuperation from surgery, but also make sure you are aware of your treatment options, and choose procedures that provide the best and quickest paths to complete recovery.

Should I stop taking medications before spinal surgery?

Medication

You have a pinched nerve, slipped disc, a spinal cord injury, or other back problem that has not responded to conservative treatments, and you have reached the decision to have spinal surgery. You and your back surgeon will discuss many aspects of your pre- and post-operative treatment, and the subject of the medications that you are currently taking – and whether you should continue their use – is high on the list of topics.

Usually patients are advised to continue use of prescription medications such as those for controlling blood pressure, even on the day of surgery – provided the medications are taken with just a small sip of water. However, use of blood thinners, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and diabetic and herbal medications should be discontinued prior to surgery. Your surgeon and staff will ask for a complete list of all medications you are taking, and it’s important to provide accurate answers.

One of the goals of post-operative care is effective pain management, and that requires patients to be free and weaned from any narcotic pain medications and muscle relaxants before the back surgery is performed. Fortunately, the open back surgery procedures of just a few years ago have in many cases been replaced by less invasive surgical procedures performed to relieve common back problems such as spinal stenosis, or symptoms of sciatica. These minimally invasive procedures cause little damage to collateral tissue, and therefore produce less pain and require less palliative medication, further speeding recovery. Other recent advances provide improved post-operative outcomes. For example, patients can now choose the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System instead of spinal fusion back surgery after a spinal decompressionprocedure. The TOPS System provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion, and preserves the full range of the individual vertebrae. Spinal fusion eliminates the independent motion of fused vertebrae, and has been shown to promote deterioration of adjacent vertebrae.

The procedure selected to treat your back problem is also a critical part of the discussions you will have with your orthopedic surgeon. Be sure to discuss all your surgical options, including advanced, proven procedures that can provide the best outcomes for your spinal condition.

Preparing for Spinal Surgery

Preparation for Surgery

Whether for a slipped disc caused by the normal aging process, or to treat a traumatic spinal cord injury, spinal surgery is never undertaken lightly. When selected as the preferred treatment option, it’s an indication of the severity of the problem being addressed. Back surgery is performed with the expectation that it offers a reasonable expectation of a meaningful improvement in one’s medical condition, and those improvements include reduction of pain and restoration of movement. So there’s actually much to look forward to when preparing for a back surgery operation! Here are things any patient can do to ensure the surgery and recovery goes as smoothly as possible:

Get in the best shape you can – mentally and physically. Exercise and eat a healthy diet. Lose weight, as extra weight puts mechanical stresses on the back and can complicate back surgery and recovery.  Lose weight sensibly!  If you smoke, now is the time to quit! If you won’t quit, you will have to stop prior to surgery, due to the many serious health risks the results of smoking can cause for surgical patients. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking. Be very thorough – even herbal supplements can impact recovery or interact with other medication prescribed for surgery.

Also, prepare for surgery by learning as much as you can about all facets of your spinal condition, and its treatment. For example, the last few years have seen dramatic advances in spinal procedures that can  provide dramatically improved clinical outcomes. The TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System, often used in the treatment of spinal stenosisspondylolisthesis, and other back problems that can cause a pinched nerve, is one such advanced procedure. TOPS is an implant system approved for use as an alternative to spinal fusion back surgery following a spinal decompression procedure. The TOPS System preserves the independent flexion and bending of the individual vertebrae following spinal decompression therapy, unlike fusion spine surgery, which eliminates this independent motion and can contribute to deterioration of adjacent vertebrae. The TOPS System has also been shown in clinical studies conducted around the globe to provide better short- and long-term outcomes than spinal fusion.

Make sure you learn all you can about your condition, and understand all your surgical options, thoroughly discuss your treatment with your physician, and you’ll be well prepared for your back surgery!