Current Diagnostic and Treatment Algorithm for Hip Disorders

Hip disorders are most common joint abnormalities in patients over 40 years of age, which result in serious symptoms and can limit the mobility tremendously. Through recent medical advancements, hip replacement alternatives have become safer and more effective treatments for chronic hip disorders. An artificial hip replacement surgery as a procedure has become standard in orthopedic surgery, and is performed more than 200 000 times annually in different German hospitals. The orthopedic surgeons are board-certified and specially trained in the replacement of the joints. 

There are many different reasons for a hip replacement surgery. The most common are the chronic arthritis of the hip, the necrosis of the femoral head e.g. after an accident or a dysplasia of the hip. All large German orthopedic centers are able to offer different varieties of replacements. Some of them could be performed by minimally invasive prodecures. This surgery causes less damage to the muscle so the patient recovers faster.

Arthritis means inflammation of the joint. Most common symptoms are pain and swelling of the joint e.g. the hip. If this inflammation lasts longer it might cause a breakdown of the cartilage tissue. This cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers all the joint ends of the bones. Its function is to reduce friction in the joint and observe the shocks that occur during movements, like walking, running etc. As the consistence of the cartilage tissue is mostly water and proteins, it is able to change its shape when compressed. Even though the cartilage can repair itself with small injuries, the body is not able to grow new cartilage tissue once it is heavily damaged. The  damage with the osteoarthritis usually occurs slowly. Patients who suffer from osteoarthritis sometimes have problems with walking or standing, which worsens with movement. The pain can appear in different locations including the groin, thigh or even the knee.  It can be a stabbing, sharp or a dull pain, and the hip is often stiff. The causes of the arthritis are not all known yet. But there are different factors that may contribute like the joint injury, increasing age and being overweight. 

German doctors are famous and well known in orthopedic treatments and orthopedic surgery. Therefore, many overseas patients choose to get treatment in Germany. The type of therapeutic management is highly dependent on the underlying disorder, often necessitating a combination of approaches including surgical or conservative therapies to achieve the best outcomes.  

If needed, the partner specialists from German Health Advisors could give a second opinion using the secure telemedicine platform. For this purpose, detailed information about the patient and radiology tests performed need to be shared. The patients with chronic hip disorders can get either second opinion or come to Germany for further diagnostic and treatment.  Below, we describe the diagnostic approach to these patients, as well as main treatment options and indications for surgical treatment. 

Diagnostic Approach to Hip Disorders

Both for getting a second opinion and organizing treatment in Germany, we need detailed information about the patient. The diagnostic evaluation for overseas patients is usually not complete when they contact us for a second opinion and subsequent treatment recommendations. The system employed by German Health Advisors, however, allows for the completion of this stage while the patient is in his homeland. It is not necessary to come to Germany for diagnostic evalutaion. You will be informed if there are any obstacles in the diagnostic processes. For the diagnosis of hip disorders, please bear in mind the following:

  • Medical history, comorbidities, physical examination, laboratory tests for blood and joint fluid are required. If you wish to get a second opinion all these need to be documented from local colleagues in the form of a doctor’s letter. If you fill the request Form for German Health Advisors carefully, this will be a great help for our local doctors in writing an informative report.  
  • The conventional radiography (X-ray) continues to be the most basic and the most widely used diagnostic imaging technique.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography scan (CT scan) are commonly used for the diagnostic of hip disorders. 
  • If you want a second opinion or you want to come to Germany for the treatment, please obtain your digital radiology images from the facility and send the DICOM filesusing German Health Advisors’secure data transfer system.

Treatment of Hip Disorders

Treatment decisions are individualized based on the type of disorder and the patient's age and physical condition. Treatment often includes a combination of surgery and medical therapy. The main goal of the treatment is to improve the person’s mobility and lifestyle. This also means to improve the function of the hip joint and to control the pain.  If there is no proper pain relief with a conservative treatment the surgery might be considered. Below, we list the main current treatment options: 

  • Medications for pain relief  
  • Physical therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Cortisone injections  
  • Tai chi and yoga
  • Hip replacement

Follow-Up after Treatment for Hip Disorders 

Recovery period after hip replacement surgery can last up to weeks if not months.  Rehabilitation after the surgery is therefore an extremely important process in helping patients maximize the benefits of their surgery. Please, take this important factor into account, if you wish to get the treatment in Germany. German Health Advisors can help you to go to a specialized physiotherapy center after the surgery, where you will be assisted through their rehabilitation program to aid you to a full recovery.

Patients, who received treatments in Germany, usually do not need to return to Germany for the follow-up visits. German Health Advisors will provide you with follow-up care through its Telemedicine platform.