Back injury is a common result of car accidents. While back pain goes away on its own in many cases, if it does not, you may need to undergo rhizotomy surgery. Rhizotomy for pain after a car accident can be very helpful, but it comes with a set of costs and a few potential complications.
What is rhizotomy surgery?
Rhizotomy surgery relieves back pain by severing nerve roots to stop the transmission of sensation. A doctor will likely only order a rhizotomy if other, less invasive measures, such as rest, ice, medication, back braces, and facet injections, have not alleviated the pain or if the pain stops the victim from doing everyday activities.
There are different types of rhizotomy surgeries:
- Dorsal rhizotomy, or selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), is the most widely used form of rhizotomy. While this procedure is more common with children, doctors will also perform it on adults suffering from bone and joint deformities. SDR is a permanent procedure that addresses problems within the central nervous system.
- Facet rhizotomy is a procedure is for people who are suffering from chronic back pain from a car accident injury or degenerative disc disease.
- A facet injection, similar to facet rhizotomy, is not a surgery. Rather, it is the procedure a doctor performs prior to a facet rhizotomy to see whether you would benefit from the surgery.
How do I prepare for a facet rhizotomy?
As with all other surgeries, you need to do a little prep before you head in for your surgery.
Your doctor may ask you to abstain from taking medications such as aspirins or blood thinners for a few days before your operation. It is important that you listen to these instructions as disobeying them could lead to severe complications.
On the day of your surgery, it is important that you go with a trusted person. In addition to driving you home, this person can catch any mistakes before they happen (e.g., a patient or procedure mix-up) or ask any questions you may have forgotten about.
How does a doctor perform a rhizotomy?
After a doctor has you lay face down, the process usually begins with a local anesthetic and a sedative. This will help numb the pain and keep you relaxed through the procedure.
Once the area is numb, the doctor will insert a needle into the affected area. To ensure correct positioning, the doctor will likely use an x-ray machine called a fluoroscopy. Once the doctor has correctly positioned the needle, he or she will send an electrical current through the needle. This may cause slight discomfort.
The electrical current heats the needle and “disarms” the nerve. Disarming the nerve prevents the transmission of pain signals.
What should I expect after a rhizotomy?
You may experience some pain and/or discomfort following the rhizotomy surgery. However, it is likely only temporary. Ask your doctor about any prolonged or serious pain.
You might actually be able to go back to work and resume your normal activities the very next day. To help eliminate any existing post-surgery pain, try taking some over the counter pain medicine or even applying an ice pack on the pain.
There are normally no serious complications associated with the rhizotomy procedure. Yet it is important that you are at least knowledgeable of potential complications should they occur.
If you experience chills, weakness, dizziness, or have a fever following your surgery, you should call your doctor right away.
The surgery has about a 50 percent success rate. It is also important to note that the relief is only temporary; it may last for a few days or a few months. You should use this relief from the pain to undergo physical therapy and give yourself a better chance of recovery. You can undergo the procedure three times a year.
According to HealthTap.com, the procedure can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $10,000.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?
Not everyone will benefit from rhizotomy surgery. As we discussed earlier, your doctor will likely have you undergo facet injections first to see if the surgery will benefit you.
The following are likely not candidates for rhizotomy surgery:
- Pregnant women
- People with bleeding problems
- People with infections
- People who have problems regulating their blood pressure
- People with diabetes
- People who responded well to less invasive therapies
Can I recover compensation for my rhizotomy surgery?
As we discussed, rhizotomies can be expensive, especially if you find that you need to repeat the process three times a year.
Fortunately, if you are able to prove that your accident — and subsequent back pain — resulted from another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation for both economic and noneconomic damages.
Make sure you include your rhizotomy procedures — and any complications — in your valuation of your economic damages.
To prove negligence, you need to establish the following:
- The other driver had a duty of care to drive responsibly.
- He or she breached that duty.
- The breach caused your accident and injuries.
- You suffered actual damages (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
To establish negligence, you need to gather evidence such as:
Get Help with Your Car Accident Claim
Recovering from a car accident can be tough. Especially when you are undergoing therapies and multiple surgeries with no way to pay for them. The car accident attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC do not think any car accident victims should have to go through this process alone.
Our attorneys will file your claim, gather evidence, manage negotiations, and represent you in court to get the compensation you deserve.
And we know that the costs of hiring a lawyer can be daunting. That is why we work on a contingency fee basis. We do not receive a dime unless and until we win your case for you. So do not worry about a thing.