In the past couple of decades there has been a huge increase in the requirement orthopaedic treatments. The constant increase in life expectancy by people living in developed countries has led to an increase in older people needing medical treatment of joints, bones, ligaments and muscles. Advances in orthopaedic techniques have resulted in new treatments that can now lead to total recovery for patients that have suffered injuries through trauma or sporting activities which was not possible in the not too distant past.
In the developed world, this increase in demand for orthopaedic treatments has not been matched by the provision of medical services. All too frequently, patients needing treatments to ease suffering either face long waiting lists or expensive private medical bills and as a result, many are looking to private treatment abroad to alleviate musculoskeletal problems. For many, Thailand has increasingly become the destination of choice for those seeking treatment.
There are many reasons why western patients are increasingly coming to Thailand for orthopaedic treatments and the biggest of these is cost. Like-for-like treatment in Thailand is available at a fraction of the cost than that in the west. To aid comparison it is valuable to look at the costs of a number of types of orthopaedic surgery. In the United States, a hip replacement costs on average US$43,000 and a knee replacement $40,000. The respective costs in Thailand are $12,000 and $10,000. Spinal treatments offer an even greater gulf as a basic spinal fusion in America is $62,000 and the equivalent in Thailand could be as low as $7,000. These huge cost differentials could lead many to question whether there is a gulf in quality of care – but that is emphatically not the case. Orthopaedic surgeons at JCI (Joint Commission International) hospitals in Thailand have virtually all been trained in the west and are fully up to date with the very latest techniques.
Surgery itself provides only part of the picture. The culture in international-standard hospitals in Thailand involves detailed evaluation and diagnostic testing before considering major surgery. Many orthopaedic problems can be tackled without resort to major surgery. Many surgeons are employing the latest keyhole techniques which can correct joint problems without the need for total replacement.
A popular reason, other than cost, that many patients travel to Thailand for orthopaedic treatment is the high quality of the after care. Good recuperative care is a high priority in Thailand and there is a much greater ratio of nurses and other health professional per patient than in most western countries. Recovering from orthopaedic treatment often requires a period of physiotherapy and practitioners in Thailand are well qualified to give patients the assistance they require after surgery and other orthopaedic procedures. All medical support and after care services in Thailand are available at just a fraction of the cost to that available in the western world.
Thailand is one of the world’s highest rated tourist destinations and has a very well developed travel industry which offers a final benefit for patients that travel to the country for orthopaedic treatment. Just a fraction of the savings made on having medical treatment will pay for a fabulous holiday giving the perfect opportunity for relaxation and recovery.