The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, the hip bone’s connected to the backbone…and they’re all connected to your wallet eventually. In times of need, surgery to your musculoskeletal system – aka, Orthopaedic Surgery – can cost you a pretty penny in the West.
So, as is the case with so many types of treatment for people who can’t afford high quality care at home, patients are heading abroad for orthopaedics. In fact, they are crossing borders for knee surgeries, hip replacements, spinal fusions and the like so frequently that orthopaedic procedures are now the second most popular category of healthcare sought by medical travelers, trailing only cosmetic/plastic surgery.
As we alluded to, orthopedic surgeries are ones that involve your bones, muscles, and joints. The quality and costs associated to the wide array of orthopaedic procedures can vary quite a bit, and as a result, medical travel has become an important option for those in need of relief: from pain or deformities in their feet and ankles, spine, hips, and knees – either from injury, or from congenital defects.
Orthopaedic surgeons manage problems associated to your musculoskeletal system through diagnosis, treatment (often with surgery), rehabilitation, and education to help prevent injury and slow the progression of disease. One of the most common surgical treatments is hip replacement – sometimes called total hip arthroplasty, and which is typically required by patients who have sustained hip-joint damage from arthritis or injury. After surgery, and a proper course of rehabilitation, hip replacement results in relief from pain and the restoration of the full range of motion and function for this important joint.
Hip replacement has become one of the most popular medical tourism treatments, and here’s why: the prosthetic hip plus hospital charges and surgeons’ fees in the US can run as high as six figures, and averages somewhere around $50-60K USD. In Thailand, however, you can have the job done in an internationally-accredited hospital, from expert surgeons, and with doting pre- and post-op care for about $12K USD. That’s some appreciable savings.
Another popular orthopaedic procedure, often associated with athletic injuries and wear-and-tear, is arthroscopic knee surgery. This can involve different parts of the knee, and can result in varying lengths of rehabilitation, but one thing is for sure: Westerners can have it done in places overseas for far less than at home. In the UK, you can pay as much as $20,000 USD per knee, whereas in India, the average is about $8,000. That means you can have surgery on two-and-a-half knees in New Delhi for the price of one in London!
A growing area of orthopaedic procedure is ADR, or Artificial Disc Replacement. This involves inserting a metal or plastic “fake” disc into the spine to imitate normal discs, which act kind of like shock absorbers in our backs, and the procedure can be done on the lower back (lumbar spine) or the neck (cervical spine). It also involves saving money, especially if you head to Singapore (where it will cost $6,000) versus Australia (where it will set you back $30,000).
With amazing progress occurring in the world of medicine each year, orthopaedic surgeries are becoming less and less invasive, which allows most medical travelers to have them done on their knees, shoulders, hips and spine without much trouble. And, given that these procedures are not usually considered urgent by healthcare systems in the West, more and more people suffering from musculoskeletal problems are choosing treatment abroad, benefitting from some of the world’s finest medical facilities – particularly in Asia – with huge savings and reduced waiting times.