What is Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

The term arthritis itself means inflammation of the joints, which causes pain and swelling of the joints of the body, such as the knees and the hips. There are many forms of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. This is also known as age-related arthritis or degenerative joint disease.

Osteoarthritis takes place when inflammation and injury to a joint translates into a break down of cartilage tissue. With this breakdown, deformities, swelling and pain follow soon after. Cartilage is a rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in a normal joint. The materials that cartilage is comprised of are proteins and water. The function of this cartilage is to reduce the friction that can take place in joints and essentially serve as a shock absorber of sorts.

This quality of normal cartilage comes from the ability to change shape when it is compressed due to the high water content. However, if it injured, new cartilage is not grown. This can cause an intense delay for the body to heal itself with significant discomfort.

In terms of how osteoarthritis can affect the hip joint specifically, patients who have this issue can have problems walking. It can be a difficult condition to diagnose because the pain can be localized in different locations such as the buttocks, knee, groin or thigh. The pain is typically described as sharp and stabbing. With the hip, the pain is often stiff.

There is no known cause of osteoarthritis in the hip, but there are a variety of risk factors that can potentially predispose to the condition or potentially make it worse. Sometimes, osteoarthritis occurs as a product of a normal, age-related change in the body. The bones become gradually weaker, new cartilage doesn’t grow as easily, and the body becomes more brittle over time. In addition, injuries to the area and being obese can add stress to the area and predispose to more inflammation.

Symptoms that can be seen in osteoarthritis of the hip include joint stiffness, pain in the hip area, a “crunching” sound of bones rubbing against each other and an inability to move the hip to perform normal activities of daily living.

In terms of treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip, the main goal is to improve mobility and improve one’s quality of life. Usually, this entails using a cane for a while to help relieve weight on the affected hip and medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen. Some lifestyle changes such as weight loss and alternative pain therapy techniques are also used to alleviate any associating discomfort.

While the cause of hip osteoarthritis is unknown, one big factor that can help you prevent getting the condition is maintaining a healthy weight. With extra weight, cartilage can suffer from excess wear and tear, especially with movement and trying to maintain the heavy weight in the upper portion of the body. Health care providers may offer additional lifestyle changes, but weight loss is the biggest modifiable risk factor to control.

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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!