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Joint Replacement Abroad


Joint Replacement Abroad

There are approximately 230 joints in the human body. As we age most of them have a tendency to wear out. However, two of them are particularly sensitive to ageing and lifestyle and, therefore, at some point they may need replacement. These are hip and knee joints. 

Hip or knee joint replacement surgery is usually necessary when osteoarthritis damages the joint so badly that pain is unbearable and it obstructs everyday life.

In a joint replacement operation the impaired parts of the joint are removed and replaced with a new, artificial joint, also known as prosthesis. This procedure seeks to improve mobility by reducing pain and improving the function of the joint.  Joint replacement surgery (both hip and knee) is considered as the most effective way to treat severe osteoarthritis, reduce pain, disability and restore joint function.


When joint replacement is required?


Ageing is natural process affecting everyone and everything around. How come only some people need the hip or knee replacement while the others do not? The answer is osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most disabling disorders nowadays. It is estimated that 10% of men and 18% of women aged over 50 years have symptomatic osteoarthritis worldwide. Age is the strongest factor affecting development and progression of osteoarthritis. Other risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity or over-activity, smoking, excess alcohol and injuries. While joint replacement surgery is mainly carried out among people aged 60 and over, the clear trend in the growing number of younger patients (people in their fifties) is visible.


Hip replacement surgery


Hip replacement is considered as highly effective solution to fix physical joint damage when other non-surgical methods do not help to treat the symptoms. Hip replacement surgery usually takes up to 3 hours. When hip replacement surgery is performed, the bone and cartilage on the ball-and-socket hip joint are removed. This procedure is performed using specific instruments. The goal of the procedure is to create surfaces that can accommodate the joint implant perfectly. Then an artificial hip prosthesis is inserted to function as a new hip joint. The surgeon selects a model, material and size of the hip implant according to each individual patient.

The hip implant does wear out over time. The estimated time for the artificial joint is 15 years, therefore hip replacements are rarely performed to younger patients since the implant may wear out too quickly. However, hip prosthesis technology is constantly modified and improved in order to provide the best possible functioning with long-lasting results.


Knee replacement surgery


Knee replacement surgery is the most common joint replacement procedure worldwide. It is performed when painful symptoms cannot be controlled with non-operative treatment. 

Knee replacement may be total or partial. During the total knee replacement operation, the bone and the cartilage on the end of the thigh bone (femur) and top of the shin bone (tibia) are removed. A metal and plastic knee implant is placed instead of the arthritic knee joint. Depending on the condition of the cartilage underneath the kneecap, the kneecap surface may also need replacing. If impaired cartilage of the kneecap needs to be replaced, the patellar component of the implant is inserted. During a partial knee replacement surgery only an injured or worn out part of the knee joint is replaced, the tissue which is not damaged is retained.

Nowadays, orthopaedic surgeons can choose from a variety of artificial joint types and designs regarding specific patient's age, weight and overall health condition. The knee implant is selected carefully in order to replicate knee's normal function.


Having joint replacement surgery abroad


The phenomenon of travelling abroad for joint replacement surgery is relatively new. The main reason why this type of surgery is getting more and more popular among medical tourists is long waiting lines in their home countries. 

Statistically a patient in the UK is forced to wait up to a year for an orthopaedic treatment. Moreover, waiting lines for knee and hip replacement surgeries have increased over 100 % recently. Naturally, patients in pain seek opportunities to have joint replacement surgery without waiting in exhausting lines. That is when a thought of pursuing surgery in a private clinic enters one’s mind. 

However, hip replacement surgery in the private clinic in the UK costs approximately GBP 9,500, in Ireland the price for this surgery may reach up to EUR 15,900, while in the USA total hip replacement surgery on average costs around USD 30,000. Knee replacement prices also differ. A knee replacement in a private clinic in the UK costs GBP 10,000, whereas in Ireland we may look at approximately EUR 17,000, in the USA the price may even reach USD 37,000. The other option is to find a clinic abroad with qualified, experienced and board certified orthopaedic surgeons. Moreover, as the European Union citizen you can get a refund of the money paid for the surgery you had in any other EU country. In this way you get a quality treatment and no lines to wait. Some of the most popular routes for orthopaedic surgeries abroad amongst UK patients usually are Germany, Poland and Lithuania.


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