Cover Lumbar Total Disc Replacement for Indicated Patients Suffering from Single-Level DDD
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Lumbar total disc replacement (TDR) is a treatment for patients who suffer from crippling, chronic low back pain caused by Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). This condition occurs when an intervertebral disc in the lower (lumbar) spine no longer functions normally because of age or injury. The degeneration may cause the disc to shrink, triggering severe pain and instability in the corresponding spinal segment. Lumbar TDR replaces the degenerated disc, potentially eliminating pain and preserving motion. Some major insurance companies, including Blue Cross Blue Shield in my home state of Florida, still do not reimburse lumbar TDR despite FDA approval and an abundance of data.
During the first week of the police academy, I injured my back. I did everything I could to get through it. The quality of my life became dependent whether or not I was in pain. Before the injury, I was into martial arts and sports. After the injury, I started progressively deteriorating to the point where I couldn’t do simple tasks. In the morning, I would have to roll out of bed. I couldn’t tie my shoes. I couldn’t put on my pants. Worst of all, I couldn’t play with my son. Finally, my surgeon determined I was a candidate for lumbar total disc replacement surgery. The first time I sneezed after surgery and didn’t feel pain in my back, I realized I had been holding back my sneezes prior to surgery because I was in so much pain.
Despite FDA approval, some insurance companies are still refusing to cover this life-changing procedure. I’m calling on Blue Cross Blue Shield to cover lumbar TDR for well-indicated patients who suffer from chronic pain caused by single-level DDD.
I’m thankful lumbar total disc replacement has given me an entirely new lease on life, and I want this procedure to be within reach for other TDR candidates who suffer from unbearable low back pain. Due to the non-coverage policy of some major insurers, many TDR candidates opt for an alternative surgery such as a fusion, which has been linked to adjacent segment disease associated with additional procedures and more quality of life lost.
More than five meta-analyses of randomized control trial data have shown that lumbar TDR is an effective treatment for single-level degenerative disc disease. Results for all outcomes typically favored TDR either significantly or numerically over fusion. After my surgery, everything in my life changed for the better. I still remember racing my son into a movie theater and realizing I was able to run again. Blue Cross Blue Shield, please cover this vital treatment for TDR candidates suffering from chronic low back pain due to single-level degenerative disc disease!
Disclaimer: I received support from Aesculap Implant Systems to help publish this petition.
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