Hip Arthritis

What is Hip Arthritis?

Arthritis is a general term covering numerous conditions, where the joint surface or cartilage wears out. The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface that allows pain-free movement in the joint. This surface can wear out for a number of reasons, often the definite cause is not known. 

When the articular cartilage wears out, the bone ends rub on one another and cause pain and inflammation.

Causes of Hip Arthritis

Hip arthritis can occur due to wear-and-tear with aging and use. This is called osteoarthritis as it is the most common type of arthritis. You may also develop osteoarthritis if you had hip injury or fracture in the past, if you have family history of osteoarthritis, suffering from hip diseases such as avascular necrosis and other congenital or developmental hip diseases. Arthritis can also occur due to an underlying systemic disease. These conditions are referred to as inflammatory arthritis.

The most common types of arthritic conditions of the hip include:

  • Osteoarthritis: degenerative joint disease that occurs most often in older people
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: systemic disease of the immune system commonly affects multiple joints on both sides of the body at the same time
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: chronic inflammatory disease of the spine and the sacroiliac joints (junction where the spine meets the pelvic bone)
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues

Symptoms of Hip Arthritis

The typical symptom of arthritis is joint pain. Hip arthritis is mainly characterized by an aching pain in the groin region, outer thighs or buttocks. The pain is commonly most severe in the morning which sometimes lessens with activity during the course of the day. Vigorous activities may result in increased pain and stiffness and limit your movement making walking difficult.

Diagnosis of Hip Arthritis

Hip arthritis can be diagnosed by a physical examination. Your doctor will ask you to move your hip in different directions to find out which motions are restricted or painful. X-rays and laboratory tests may be ordered to diagnose or rule out other conditions. X-rays may show thinning or erosion in the bones or loss in joint space. Laboratory studies will show the presence of a rheumatoid factor or other antibodies.

Treatment of Hip Arthritis

The treatment options vary depending on the diagnosis.

Non-surgical Treatment of Hip Arthritis

Any infection in the hip joint is treated by non-surgical treatments, which may provide relief with relatively few side effects.

  • Pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroid injections may help reduce the pain and inflammation.
  • Heat/cold therapy which involves applying heat or cold packs to the joints provides temporary pain relief.
  • Physical therapy may be recommended to help you increase the range of motion and strengthening exercises to maintain muscle tone.
  • Assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, can make your daily living activities easier.
  • Lifestyle modifications can be done to control weight and avoid extra stress on the weight-bearing joints.

Surgical Treatment of Hip Arthritis

Surgery is considered the last treatment resort when the above non-surgical treatment options fail to reduce the symptoms. The type of surgery to be performed depends on your age, condition of the hip joint, and the type and progression of the inflammatory disease. The goal of the surgery is to relieve pain and improve the joint motion. The most common surgical procedures include:

  • Bone grafts: Recommended for SLE. These grafts aim to build new blood cells to replace the old dead cells.
  • Core decompression: Helps to reduce bone marrow pressure and encourages blood flow.
  • Synovectomy: It is the procedure of removal of a part or whole of the joint lining.
  • Osteotomy: An osteotomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting and reshaping of a bone.
  • Hip replacement surgery: A hip replacement is a surgical procedure in which the damaged cartilage and bone is removed from the hip joint and replaced with artificial components.