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  • CliffK
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 328

    • September 03, 2014, 10:57:02 am
    • South Korea
Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« on: January 29, 2016, 10:24:09 am »
Hey All,

So as the title suggests I was on bicycle last week last week and hit a patch of black ice that took me down. A thick down jacket padded my fall somewhat, but I landed hard on my arm which then pressed into my abdomen/chest. I'm pretty sure I have some bruised ribs, which is painful but bearable.

However, several days after the fall I started having some back trouble. It's seemingly gotten worse. Usually sitting and walking around is not very painful, but when I lay down at night its hard to find a position that doesn't hurt. Last night the pain woke me up but I was able to fall back asleep. So far the pain is confined to the back, and is not travelling down to the legs or anywhere else.

I've thought about going to the doctor but I don't want to shell out a couple hundred thousand won for an MRI or x-ray when I doubt they would find anything. After all I feel like with being able to walk around OK it can't be that bad, and I doubt since I didn't fall directly on my back there would be anything broken there. I've also read that things like pinched nerves and slipped discs don't even show up on something like an MRI. I don't want to go, get told there's nothing wrong, and be out all that money.  But, I don't want to possibly let something serious get worse...

For those who have had accidents/back problems in Korea, what's been your experience? Should I just try an ibuprofen regimen for a week and see if that solves the issue? I realize we're not doctors on here, but I'd appreciate anybody's personal experiences/ advice. I did see a couple older threads on doctor visits in general, but was looking for something a little more specific. Thanks!


  • tamjen
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1180

    • June 19, 2013, 08:08:14 am
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2016, 11:03:56 am »
Hey All,

So as the title suggests I was on bicycle last week last week and hit a patch of black ice that took me down. A thick down jacket padded my fall somewhat, but I landed hard on my arm which then pressed into my abdomen/chest. I'm pretty sure I have some bruised ribs, which is painful but bearable.

However, several days after the fall I started having some back trouble. It's seemingly gotten worse. Usually sitting and walking around is not very painful, but when I lay down at night its hard to find a position that doesn't hurt. Last night the pain woke me up but I was able to fall back asleep. So far the pain is confined to the back, and is not travelling down to the legs or anywhere else.

I've thought about going to the doctor but I don't want to shell out a couple hundred thousand won for an MRI or x-ray when I doubt they would find anything. After all I feel like with being able to walk around OK it can't be that bad, and I doubt since I didn't fall directly on my back there would be anything broken there. I've also read that things like pinched nerves and slipped discs don't even show up on something like an MRI. I don't want to go, get told there's nothing wrong, and be out all that money.  But, I don't want to possibly let something serious get worse...

For those who have had accidents/back problems in Korea, what's been your experience? Should I just try an ibuprofen regimen for a week and see if that solves the issue? I realize we're not doctors on here, but I'd appreciate anybody's personal experiences/ advice. I did see a couple older threads on doctor visits in general, but was looking for something a little more specific. Thanks!

Go. This sounds like a decent amount of time off with pay to me.
Hail Caesar


  • jamonamagnet
  • Expert Waygook

    • 610

    • April 01, 2015, 10:09:26 am
    more
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2016, 11:22:36 am »
Go to the doctor.  With your national insurance the co-payment is not much at all.  And if you need surgery- get it!  It will not be expensive.


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2016, 11:24:57 am »
Go to a doctor. They may not need an MRI. My othopedic specialist diagnosed herniated disc with some simple physical manipulation of parts of my body and confirmed it with an x-ray.

Your back isn't worth not going. Kinda important to get it checked out, without getting the right treatment (often just anti-inflammatories combined with pain blockers) the injury will often get worse. Overall, I probably paid only around 100 to 200 (the specialist who was incredibly good was only 20 dollars as well!)
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  • Savant
  • The Legend

    • 2647

    • April 07, 2012, 11:35:31 pm
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2016, 11:26:25 am »
I've had an x-ray on a painful back followed by some back therapy: electric impulse and heat induced treatment. Didn't cost me that much with National Health Insurance.


  • Paul
  • Featured Contributor

    • 2055

    • September 21, 2010, 10:28:58 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2016, 12:14:44 pm »
I've thought about going to the doctor but I don't want to shell out a couple hundred thousand won for an MRI or x-ray when I doubt they would find anything.

Go to the doctor.  With your national insurance the co-payment is not much at all.  And if you need surgery- get it!  It will not be expensive.

MRIs cost approximately 400,000 at the lowest end of the scale. I know this. I've shopped around. I had one on Tuesday. The National Health Insurance Scheme starts to show its holes as soon as you have a sports injury.

In fact, expect to pay that much for the X-Ray alone if you just rock up at a name brand hospital out of the blue*, but at a local clinic, they're covered and they cost peanuts.

* Never, ever do this. Koreans will often tell you to, but it's terrible advice. You can be denied coverage if you don't visit a local clinic first and get a formal referral. Don't expect a warning either, they'll just hand you an absurd bill. Yonsei is an exception as the foreign clinic is categorised seperately and handles all the referral stuff in-house for you, but there is a massive surcharge there anyway.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2016, 12:23:44 pm by Paul »
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  • glb0b
  • Expert Waygook

    • 601

    • July 06, 2010, 03:02:56 pm
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2016, 12:26:51 pm »
If you are worried about the cost go to a clinic not a hospital. The co-pay at a clinic is only 30% but at a big hospital it can be as much as 50 or 60% (I can't remember which).

Unfortunately an MRI is not covered by health insurance so will cost you 400,000 to about 700,000 won. But maybe it is not necessary.

I had a bunch of x-rays last year for an injury and they cost very little so they seem to be covered by insurance. I paid about 10,000 for an x-ray and a visit to the doctor.


  • KoreaBoo
  • Expert Waygook

    • 618

    • May 25, 2014, 04:00:42 pm
    • Vancouver Island
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2016, 12:28:30 pm »
Hey All,

So as the title suggests I was on bicycle last week last week and hit a patch of black ice that took me down. A thick down jacket padded my fall somewhat, but I landed hard on my arm which then pressed into my abdomen/chest. I'm pretty sure I have some bruised ribs, which is painful but bearable.

However, several days after the fall I started having some back trouble. It's seemingly gotten worse. Usually sitting and walking around is not very painful, but when I lay down at night its hard to find a position that doesn't hurt. Last night the pain woke me up but I was able to fall back asleep. So far the pain is confined to the back, and is not travelling down to the legs or anywhere else.

I've thought about going to the doctor but I don't want to shell out a couple hundred thousand won for an MRI or x-ray when I doubt they would find anything. After all I feel like with being able to walk around OK it can't be that bad, and I doubt since I didn't fall directly on my back there would be anything broken there. I've also read that things like pinched nerves and slipped discs don't even show up on something like an MRI. I don't want to go, get told there's nothing wrong, and be out all that money.  But, I don't want to possibly let something serious get worse...

For those who have had accidents/back problems in Korea, what's been your experience? Should I just try an ibuprofen regimen for a week and see if that solves the issue? I realize we're not doctors on here, but I'd appreciate anybody's personal experiences/ advice. I did see a couple older threads on doctor visits in general, but was looking for something a little more specific. Thanks!

Winter & icy conditions are not meant for bicycles.


  • jamonamagnet
  • Expert Waygook

    • 610

    • April 01, 2015, 10:09:26 am
    more
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2016, 12:30:21 pm »
I've thought about going to the doctor but I don't want to shell out a couple hundred thousand won for an MRI or x-ray when I doubt they would find anything.

Go to the doctor.  With your national insurance the co-payment is not much at all.  And if you need surgery- get it!  It will not be expensive.

MRIs cost approximately 400,000 at the lowest end of the scale. I know this. I've shopped around. I had one on Tuesday. The National Health Insurance Scheme starts to show its holes as soon as you have a sports injury.
$400 seems pretty cheap, although I would expect OP to go to a doctor and get checked out.  The doc can make the decision if an MRI is necessary, but it may not be.


  • nermal
  • Veteran

    • 228

    • September 26, 2012, 08:07:32 am
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2016, 12:57:06 pm »
It's only been a week right? Just take ibuprofen. If the pain continues gets worse, then go to a doctor. You probably don't need an MRI.


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2016, 01:06:44 pm »
Mattress heating pad and go see the doctor already. Your health is wealth. Put your health first.


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2016, 01:26:42 pm »
If you are worried about the cost go to a clinic not a hospital. The co-pay at a clinic is only 30% but at a big hospital it can be as much as 50 or 60% (I can't remember which).

Unfortunately an MRI is not covered by health insurance so will cost you 400,000 to about 700,000 won. But maybe it is not necessary.

I had a bunch of x-rays last year for an injury and they cost very little so they seem to be covered by insurance. I paid about 10,000 for an x-ray and a visit to the doctor.

I had back surgery a couple of years ago, and was sad to see that MRIs were not covered. 500,000won is pretty standard. If possible, maybe you can opt for a CT scan, which will run you about 80,000 won.


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2016, 03:02:17 pm »
Just go see a doctor, they'll tell you if tou need a CT. An MRI is way more high definition but may not be necessary


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2016, 03:06:46 pm »
I just had back surgery here in Seoul just 3 months ago. I went to the best/famous orthopedic spine hospital in Seoul. They were excellent. I've been through a lot with my back and tried all means necessary NOT to have surgery. it's been an expensive ride but c'est la vie.

If you feel pain sitting or lying down it is probably a disc. However that manifests itself often times with leg pain, which you don't have. So could be anything.

Xray first step then MRI. It's very possible that an xray won't allow for a diagnosis. The MRI will do it. But it's step by step. The doc will refer you to some physio for your back. probably the usual... heat, electric stimulation stuff etc. it may or may not work.

Surgery last option.

Good luck and beware of online advice. There are a million answers by a million different people. listen to the doc.

My only advice is to take care of it and do what is necessary now. Your worth it. Don't put it off for 15 years like I did. Sometimes 'sucking it up' is the worst option. The world doesn't need superheroes. Mine caught up with me.


  • tamjen
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1180

    • June 19, 2013, 08:08:14 am
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2016, 03:29:46 pm »
Have you considered a chiropractor? I dislocated the L5 in my back and thanks to Chiropractic care never took a single pill or missed a day of work.

The surgeon I saw as soon as I could after the accident started sharpening his scalpel right away.
Hail Caesar


  • CliffK
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 328

    • September 03, 2014, 10:57:02 am
    • South Korea
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2016, 07:07:29 pm »
Thanks all for the advice. I'm going to get it checked out tomorrow morning. Fortunately I've been saving money like crazy so even if it does cost me some cash I can fortunately afford it, and I realize that health really is the most valuable thing. I injured my shoulders a few years ago and received some physical therapy which really worked wonders so I'm hopeful that something like that or a chiropractor will resolve the issue before something like surgery is even mentioned. But I'll see what the doctor says tomorrow and go from there. Its kind of ironic that I was on my way to the gym of all places to try and maintain my health when I injured myself, but I have learned my lesson about the perils of biking in the winter time. I appreciate everyone's comments.


Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2016, 08:08:11 pm »
I just had back surgery here in Seoul just 3 months ago. I went to the best/famous orthopedic spine hospital in Seoul. They were excellent. I've been through a lot with my back and tried all means necessary NOT to have surgery. it's been an expensive ride but c'est la vie.

just wondering what you paid. I have a ruptured disc but with chiropathy it has been tolerable.

was sad to see that MRIs were not covered. 500,000won is pretty standard.

I got an MRI last year and it was covered.

Thanks all for the advice. I'm going to get it checked out tomorrow morning. Fortunately I've been saving money like crazy so even if it does cost me some cash I can fortunately afford it, and I realize that health really is the most valuable thing. I injured my shoulders a few years ago and received some physical therapy which really worked wonders so I'm hopeful that something like that or a chiropractor will resolve the issue before something like surgery is even mentioned. But I'll see what the doctor says tomorrow and go from there. Its kind of ironic that I was on my way to the gym of all places to try and maintain my health when I injured myself, but I have learned my lesson about the perils of biking in the winter time. I appreciate everyone's comments.

I did something similar to you last year.

First get the MRI.

If like me its a ruptured disc they will first recommend chiropathy. In my case spinal re-allignment provided a good level of improvement.






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  • zola
  • The Legend

    • 2917

    • September 30, 2012, 06:56:11 am
    • Korea
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2016, 08:12:30 am »
I just had back surgery here in Seoul just 3 months ago. I went to the best/famous orthopedic spine hospital in Seoul. They were excellent. I've been through a lot with my back and tried all means necessary NOT to have surgery. it's been an expensive ride but c'est la vie.

just wondering what you paid. I have a ruptured disc but with chiropathy it has been tolerable.

was sad to see that MRIs were not covered. 500,000won is pretty standard.

I got an MRI last year and it was covered.

Thanks all for the advice. I'm going to get it checked out tomorrow morning. Fortunately I've been saving money like crazy so even if it does cost me some cash I can fortunately afford it, and I realize that health really is the most valuable thing. I injured my shoulders a few years ago and received some physical therapy which really worked wonders so I'm hopeful that something like that or a chiropractor will resolve the issue before something like surgery is even mentioned. But I'll see what the doctor says tomorrow and go from there. Its kind of ironic that I was on my way to the gym of all places to try and maintain my health when I injured myself, but I have learned my lesson about the perils of biking in the winter time. I appreciate everyone's comments.

I did something similar to you last year.

First get the MRI.

If like me its a ruptured disc they will first recommend chiropathy. In my case spinal re-allignment provided a good level of improvement.

If you stay the night in a hospital and get an MRI as part of that admission, the MRI may be covered.

In most cases they are not covered. They are one of the hospitals biggest cash cows. I paid 450000 for one in 2014.
Kpip! - Martin 2018


  • CliffK
  • Moderator LVL 1

    • 328

    • September 03, 2014, 10:57:02 am
    • South Korea
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2016, 08:54:12 pm »
I'll add an update in case anyone is interested- I ended up going to the doctor yesterday. He was a young guy but his field was internal medicine and seemed to know his stuff.

They ended up first doing a sonogram of my ribs, since they had been painful ever since the fall. As it turns out and unbeknownst to me I have two fractured ribs. The doctor was  confident that the back pain is actually due to me unconsciously overworking certain back muscles to try to avoid aggravating the pain in the ribs. He gave me some muscle relaxant to take as well as some anti-inflammatory for the next week in addition to a wrap to wear around my abdomen/chest.

I never thought ribs would affect a back, but the explanation does make sense. It also adds up because the back pain didn't start until several days after the fall. All in all it only cost about 65,000 won, and I'm happy to know that its just the ribs, as they can heal but a bad back could be much more long term. So still alive and kicking, just not kicking quite as hard as I once was.

The doctor recommended a week of rest. I told my school that I'll take off Monday and Tuesday. I could have pushed for more time, but I knew the students are having a special assembly Monday and Tuesday so I won't be teaching those two days anyway. That way I can get some time to heal up and won't inconvenience anyone else in the process. So it all worked out, and hopefully I'm on the path to recovery.


  • Hot6^
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1759

    • March 14, 2014, 02:46:01 pm
    • Bucheon
Re: Fell Off my Bike & Back Problems- MRI/X-ray worth it?
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2016, 10:37:22 am »
Shop around, some hospitals have specials. I had to get an MRI, and went to a different hospital for it, was 450 at one, 550 at one, and then one was having a special for 330.

They give you a disk you can take back to the original doctor to look at.. as its all the same system.
What you put into Korea, is what you will get out of Korea; it will not spoon feed you.