Osteoarthritis of the Hip Joint

Osteoarthritis of the hip

A hip joint is a ball and socket joint. It has a ball at the top of the thigh bone that fits into a socket in the pelvis.

The ends of bones in a typical joint are covered by cartilage (a smooth slippery surface). This smooth but tough cartilage surrounding the bones’ end help in the smooth movement of the bones against each other preventing friction. The cartilage within the joints acts like a shock absorber.

Joints wear and tear during one’s lifetime due to normal aging, overuse, injury, or for any other reason.  The cartilage in the hip joint becomes thin and the bone surfaces of the joint become rough. This may lead to pain, swelling, and joint stiffness. The condition is known as osteoarthritis of the hip joint.

Though there are many types of arthritis, osteoarthritis of the hip and knee joints is the most common one. Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative arthritis or age-related arthritis. It is common in people who are older – especially in women compared to men.

What happens if you have osteoarthritis of the hip?

If you have this condition, you will feel pain in different locations – such as the thigh, buttocks, groin, or knee. You will also experience sharp or stabbing pain or sometimes, a dull ache. Your hip is often stiff.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip joint?

 If you have osteoarthritis, you will experience:

  • Pain, tenderness, or swelling in the hip joint
  • Joint stiffness when you sit for long
  • Stiffness while getting out of bed
  • Crunching sound in the joint
  • Difficulty in moving the hip joint to perform routine activities

Arthritis Causes

  • A family history (genes) inherited from parents
  • Excess body weight (obesity or overweight)
  • Heavy lifting
  • Professions involving long periods of standing
  • Deformity in the hip joint
  • Injuries
  • Age 45 years or above
  • Overuse of the joints
  • Repetitive stress and mechanical overload
  • Hip fracture or hip trauma
  • Hip dislocation

Diagnosis of Hip Osteoarthritis

Your doctor performs a physical examination, takes your medical history, and checks the mobility of your hip joint. Your doctor may order an X-ray. The X-ray of the hip joint shows spurring of joint margins and narrowing of the joints (thinning of cartilage in the joints) and joint space narrowing if you have osteoarthritis of the hip joint.

Management of osteoarthritis

Your orthopedic doctor, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and dietician form a multidisciplinary team to effectively manage your condition. The management approach varies according to the stage and severity of the condition. Customized exercise programs, weight reduction methods, activity restrictions, balance training, and medications are included in a typical management program.

If these approaches do not offer any relief, as seen in most severe cases, total hip replacement surgery is recommended.

Learn more about Robotic Hip Replacement

Bottom Line

Osteoarthritis of the hip may progress to the point where you may need joint replacement. Early diagnosis and prompt management of the condition can help in preventing progressive degeneration of the cartilage and delaying surgery.