Spine London

Frequently asked questions

Who are Spine London?

We’re a private, invitation only network of the best spinal and neurological experts in London and the South East. Our mission is to make sure our patients get the treatment they need, from the specialist they want, when and where they want.

I’m really claustrophobic. I can’t go into an MRI.

Don’t worry. We have open MRI scanners where you’ll lots of room all around you. And if you can’t lie down, we can get you an MRI in a scanner where you can sit or stand.

Am I going to need an operation?

You’re unlikely to need an operation. More than 95% of patients who come to see us don’t need an operation. But if you’re one of those less than 5%, we’ll make sure you see the best surgeon for your problem, at a hospital you choose.

I’ve been told I need an operation, but I really don’t want one.

That’s quite understandable. If you’re not sure, come and see one of our consultants for a second opinion, and they may recommend you’re discussed at one of our MDTs.

I’ve been waiting for NHS treatment for ages. Can you help?

We’ll be more than happy to see if we can help you. Call or email us and we’ll take you through options.

What are the risks of spine surgery?

Your spine surgeon or neurosurgeon will discuss specific risks with you, but the risk of major complications is usually less than 10%.

What are the risks of spinal injections?

Your spine physician or pain specialist will discuss specific treatment risks with you, but they are very low. The risk of a major complication is extremely low, typically less than 0.1%.

Should I have injections or surgery?

You will have this discussion with your Spine London specialist. The indications for surgery are normally one or more of the following: structural instability (eg. fracture or severe degeneration), worsening neurological deficit (eg. weakness or numbness that’s getting worse), some instances of cancer, compression of your spinal cord or nerve roots (eg. cauda equina syndrome), or pain that can’t be controlled by any other means. If your problem is pain, spine specialists will try everything they can to avoid operating on you.

How long will injections last?

In some cases, injections are all that patients need, and they may come back once or twice a year to have them repeated. Everyone has different thresholds for whether they want medication, injections or surgery, and your spine specialist will take you through the treatment options available for your problem, and help you come to a decision that works best for you.

Will you accept my insurance?

We work with all major UK private medical insurers. They don’t all offer the same level of cover, so you may not be able to see all of our consultants or go to all of our hospitals if you want to use your insurance. But if you are willing to self-pay, you will be able to go to any hospital and see any specialist.

Will all my costs be covered by insurance?

Many patients we see have health insurance policies that restrict their cover in order to keep their premiums down. Most policies will cover the most expensive parts of your care, which is hospital and imaging centre charges, which can represent more than 75% of your treatment costs, but they may not pay your consultant or other health professional charges in full.

How much does spine surgery cost?

That depends on the operation you need and where you’re willing to go. Spine surgery can cost as little as £10,000 at a hospital outside central London, to more than £50,000 for highly complex surgery with a long hospital stay in one of the UK’s best centres. But we can work with you to help you get the best price.

How much are consultant fees?

Consultant fees can be as low as £125 if you see a consultant whose fees have been limited by a health insurer, but most will charge £250 to over £300 for an initial appointment. Fees for surgery can be as low as £500 for a simple spinal injection, to several thousand pounds for long and complex surgery. Some health insurers will not pay these in full.

Will I be able to see the consultant I want?

Of course. We will refer you to whoever you want to see, even if they’re not a Spine London preferred specialist.

How much does physiotherapy cost?

We work with many physiotherapy practices across London and their prices vary, but most are fully covered by health insurers. If you pay your own medical bills, you can expect to pay between £75 and £120 per session.

Can I get finance to help me pay for treatment?

We are finding more people paying for their treatment, especially as premiums for health insurance keep rising, especially if you pay for it yourself and if you’re over 50. If you are looking for finance to help pay for your treatment, please contact us and we can discuss options with you.

I’m on strong painkillers and my GP wants me to stop them. Can you help?

We can help you with that. We have pain consultants who can help you reduce or even come off strong painkillers and offer you alternative treatments.