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The Warsaw Voice » Destination Warsaw » September 30, 2011
Destination Warsaw
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Treating Back Pain
September 30, 2011   
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Dr. Alexander Kraft, an Austrian orthopedic surgeon and president of Vertebralia Polska Sp. z o.o., talks to Jolanta Wolska.

How does Poland compare with Austria and other Western European countries in terms of the magnitude of back problems?
The magnitude of the problem is the same in all countries. The more the country is developed, the more people sit at desks while performing their work, the more back problems develop. Our target group in the Polish clinic and elsewhere are office workers who sit at the computer all day long. It’s a common problem in post-industrialized countries. Seventy to eighty percent of the population suffers at least once in their lives from back pain.

Disc prolapse is the most severe back disease and about 90 percent of these cases heal on their own, but it takes a long time. About 75 percent of patients who are waiting for surgery can be successfully treated by our methods and therefore avoid painful and expensive surgery.

Back pain often goes away on its own, but it can take weeks and in the meantime the patient is totally debilitated. Our aim is to treat the pain immediately, restore full health as soon as possible, so that people can go back to going on with their lives, whether it’s doing sport, working, whatever.

Why did you decide to set up such a back pain clinic in Poland?
We did our research of how back pain is treated in Central Eastern European countries and we found that it is at the same level as it was in Austria 20 years ago. Because it is not a life-threatening disease, other diseases take priority in being treated in CEE countries. Also, economically Poland has a larger proportion of higher incomes than in other CEE countries.

What does the clinic offer?
The Vertebralia clinic provides interventional pain treatment. It is a one-stop-shop where we provide various treatments, message and a rehabilitation fitness center. Each patient has one disease manager, who sees the patient’s problem holistically, and coordinates all his tests and treatments. The manager is trained in various methods of treatments and can therefore recommend those best suited to the patient. This is unique in Poland; no other clinic operates like that here and nobody else offers this type of back pain treatment here.

For lesser pain, we offer people training in how to strengthen their muscles, message, and the spine liner treatment, that is a painless therapy and can bring excellent results. We have a special rehabilitation fitness-training center, using the Dr. Wolff method that treats muscle imbalance and weakness.

Does your clinic in Warsaw employ Austrian or local doctors?
We are training Polish doctors to perform the various procedures. All our doctors and staff are trained in Austria and I am in Warsaw for two days every week to do quality reviews and provide additional training.

The clinic is planning to provide treatments for business travelers and tourists. Why not encourage them to come to your Austrian clinic?
It is cheaper to provide these services in Poland, because the cost of living is lower here. The Vertebralia clinic in Warsaw is a private clinic. It is brand new and bigger than in Austria and has state-of-the-art facilities and the latest equipment. Several private health insurance companies in Poland cover the cost of treatment at our clinic.

What would be the cost of an average treatment?
A package, including a combination of four nights’ stay at the Intercontinental Hotel, with limousine service, and a series of treatments at the Vertebralia clinic for five days, costs zl.5,000. We also have various packages without a hotel stay, and we have single treatments. The first doctor’s consultation costs zl.150, and single treatments range from zl.120 to zl.150. Overall, a regular pain patient would spend between zl.1,000-2,500 for the entire treatment as an outpatient, depending on the individual case. In many cases, a five-day treatment is sufficient to eliminate all pain.

You recently joined the Warsaw Destination Alliance...
Yes, because we want to promote medical tourism here, and we are building that idea together with the WDA. They have helped us build the packages and they have been very good with facilitating networking in Warsaw. We are very happy with this cooperation.
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