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Conditions & Treatments

Hip Arthritis

About the hip joint

The hip joint is the largest weight-bearing joint in the body. It is a ball and socket joint that is very strong and stable but is not indestructible. The ball is the head of the lower leg bone called the femur, and the socket is the area of the pelvis called the acetabulum. Both the ball and socket are lined with articular cartilage which provides for essentially friction-free movements. Articular cartilage has only a limited ability to heal itself due to a poor blood supply.

About Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip is called “wear and tear” arthritis which commonly develops in people 50 and older. OA is the most common type of arthritis, the most common joint disorder and the leading cause of disability in America. OA negatively impacts the quality of life mentally and physically.

How does OA damage the hip joint?

OA is a chronic, degenerative progressive disease of the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. As OA progresses the cartilage breaks and cracks, bones change shape, and bone spurs form causing painful, swollen joints and restricted movements. Once the cartilage degenerates it cannot grow back. Degeneration of articular cartilage ultimately destroys the joint. OA of the hip is the most common reason for a hip replacement.

What are the symptoms of Hip OA?

  • Deep groin pain and stiffness, but pain in the buttocks and even the inside of the knee can also be symptoms
  • Painful aching hip joint that hurts during and after activity, and at the end of the day.
  • Joint stiffness first thing in the morning and after resting.
  • Joint inflammation and swelling.
  • Reduced range of motion which may improve with exercise or activity.
  • Joint instability and dislocation
  • Fatigue

What contributes to hip OA?

  • Older age
  • joint injury- post traumatic OA
  • overuse
  • obesity
  • weak muscles
  • genetics
  • sex- more women than men develop OA

What other effects does OA have on health?

Negative health effects include increased difficulty with exercise which can worsen weight gain and cause anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. End stage OA is the most severe stage, when the articular cartilage is worn away. The result is bone of bone contact which can deteriorate the bones, ligaments and tendons around the hip. The pain so severe it limits the ability to perform daily life activities like climbing stairs, walking, getting in and out of a car or a chair, depression, and sleep disturbances.

OA sufferers fall 30% more often than people without OA and this increases the risk for fracture. This risk is partly because of the medications taken to reduce pain and because of weakened muscles around the affected joint. New research reports that people with OA have a 24% higher risk of developing heart disease.

How is hip OA diagnosed?

Your OANC orthopedic surgeon will review your medical history and ask about your symptoms. He will order x-ray which will reveal joint changes and bone damage and an MRI to view the cartilage and the soft tissues.

How is hip OA treated?

There is no cure.  Nonsurgical treatments focus on relieving pain and stiffness and slowing progression of the disease to avoid the need for joint replacement. The goal of treatment is to relieve pain, improve function and quality of life and reduce disability.

Nonsurgical treatments for OA include:

  • physical therapy including strength, range of motion and balance exercises
  • weight loss
  • corticosteroid injections
  • topical and oral non-narcotic pain medications may be recommended to ease discomfort.
  • Injections of platelet-rich plasma,
  • Injections of hyaluronic acid
  • The antidepressant Cymbalta® and the anti-seizure drug Lyrica® have been approved for treatment of OA pain.

Joint replacement surgery is the last resort.

Contact your OANC orthopedic surgeon to schedule a consultation to receive the correct diagnosis and treatment options.

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