The hip is a large “ball and socket” joint made up of the upper-end of the thigh bone and acetabulum (cup) of the pelvis. The ends of the bones are covered with a smooth, soft tissue called cartilage that allows effortless motion through the hip. Arthritis is a condition characterized by loss of cartilage in a joint. As the cartilage begins to wear away over time, the bony “ball and socket” begins to rub together which can lead to joint damage.
- Progressive groin pain
- Difficulty moving at the hip
- Walking with a limp
- Catching, clicking or grinding in the hip
The most common type is osteoarthritis. It can also be caused by inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injury, hip fracture, or previous joint infection.
Individuals with a family history of arthritis are more likely to develop this condition. Other risk factors include obesity, age (more common in the elderly and middle-aged), and activity level.
After discussing your medical history and symptoms, your medical provider will perform a physical examination to test hip range of motion and perform other tests to rule out alternative hip conditions.
X-ray imaging can show bone loss, bone spur formation, hip deformity, and decrease in joint spacing, indicative of hip arthritis.
For patients with mild complaints such as occasional hip pain, those who are still performing daily activities without much difficulty, and patients who are not ready for surgery, nonsurgical treatment may be discussed. Some patients with early stages of arthritis will benefit from anti-inflammatory medication to reduce pain, physical therapy to maintain mobility, and activity modification to avoid aggravating factors. If you are overweight, losing weight can reduce pressure on the joint and help with your symptoms. Younger individuals may benefit from delaying surgery, as the hip implants can wear out and may require additional surgery years later to replace the worn artificial material.
In later stages of hip arthritis, your doctor may recommend a total hip replacement surgery to remove the damaged bone and replace the joint with an artificial implant.