Hip Arthritis

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What is hip arthritis?

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age.

 

Types of arthritis

There are three types of arthritis in the hips. 

Osteoarthritis

Also known as degenerative arthritis, osteoarthritis is when the smooth outer covering of the bone (articular cartilage) is destroyed. When you move your hip, the bones of the joint rub against each other, causing pain. Osteoarthritis usually affects people in middle age.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It means that the immune system attacks its tissues.

 

Post-traumatic Arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis is osteoarthritis that develops after an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation of the hip.

 

Symptoms

The severity of symptoms varies significantly from patient to patient. For some patients,  symptoms are not constant and may come and go. Symptoms of arthritis in the hip may include:

  • Pain. The most common symptom of arthritis in the hip is pain. Activities worsen the pain, and the pain progressively gets worse over time.

  • Limited range of motion. Limited motion is another common symptom. It may become more challenging to move your leg.

  • Crepitus. Grinding, clicking or snapping sound (crepitus) from your hip.

  • Locking. A cartilage piece may dislodge from the joint and trap between joint spaces, which blocks the movement of the hip.

 

When should I seek medical help?

There are circumstances when hip pain might be caused or accompanied by severe issues. If such symptoms are present, it is best to seek immediate medical attention to avoid further complications:

  • A deformed joint

  • Inability to move your leg or hip

  • Inability to bear weight on the affected leg

  • Severe pain in the hip

  • Any signs of infection (fever, chills, redness)

  • Recent history of trauma

 

Diagnosis

To diagnose hip arthritis, your doctor will take your case history and past medical history into account. They will check to see if it is painful in any area or if there is a deformity. To measure the range of motion of your hip, your doctor will have you move your arm in several different directions and test the strength of your leg.

 

Other investigations that can help your doctor confirm your diagnosis include X-rays. X-rays will show joint space narrowing, bone changes and bone spurs (osteophytes) formation.

 

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce the pain in your hips and restore function. Non-surgical treatments may include: 

  • Rest or change in activities. You may need to change how you move your arm to avoid causing pain.

  • Physical therapy exercises may improve your hip's range of motion, strength and function.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen, may reduce inflammation and pain.

 

Your doctor may discuss surgical options with you if your pain causes disability and is not relieved with non-surgical treatment. Here are some examples of surgery:

  • Arthroscopy. Cases of mild arthritis can be treated with arthroscopy. It is a minimally invasive procedure. During the procedure, your doctor can clean out the inside of the joint. Although this method provides pain relief and may increase the range of motion, it will not eliminate arthritis from the joint.

  • Hip joint replacement (arthroplasty) can treat advanced arthritis of the joint with elbow replacement surgery. This procedure removes damaged parts of the hip and replaces them with artificial components.

 

Prevention of arthritis of the hip

There are ways to prevent arthritis in the hip. Here are some examples:

  • Avoid activities that put stress on the hips, such as crossing your legs or slouching during sitting. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Get proper footwear.

  • Regular exercise to maintain the strength and flexibility of hip muscles.