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Hip Arthritis Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, comprised of two bones: the femur (thighbone) and the pelvis. The ball of the hip joint is made by the femoral head, while the socket is formed by the acetabulum. The hip’s ball-and-socket joint allows the leg to rotate and move forward, backward, and sideways. In a healthy hip, the ball and socket are protected by a layer called articular cartilage, which allows for the bones in the hip joint to glide together smoothly. One of the most common forms of injury to the hip is hip arthritis. Hip arthritis occurs when the articular cartilage in the hip joint wears down or is damaged, resulting in the bones grinding together. This causes painful inflammation and stiffness in the hip, making it difficult to move the leg.

There are several different forms of hip arthritis. Today, we will discuss them, along with recommended treatment methods used regularly at JIS Orthopedics.

Types of Hip Arthritis

Osteoarthritis. This is the most common form of arthritis seen in the hip, usually occurring in people aged 60 and above. Osteoarthritis is often described as the result of wear and tear on the joints, which explains why the condition is found more commonly in older people. There are four stages of osteoarthritis that can occur in the hip:

  • Stage 1: Minor wear and tear of the hip joints, typically little to no pain felt
  • Stage 2: X-Rays begin to show more noticeable bone spur growths. The affected area will start to feel stiff and uncomfortable
  • Stage 3: Also known as moderate osteoarthritis. The cartilage in the affected area starts to erode and narrow the gap between the bone and the joint, resulting in pain and discomfort during normal daily activity.
  • Stage 4: This stage is known as severe osteoarthritis. During this stage, the cartilage is almost gone, causing chronic inflammation. Pain and stiffness are felt almost all of the time.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). A systemic disorder, effecting your entire body and not just the hip joint. In cases like this, the inflammation is related to an immune system response rather than wear and tear.

RA causes inflammation of the synovial membrane, a capsule surrounding the hip joint. This results in pain and swelling, and eventually can cause the bone and cartilage of the joint itself to deteriorate. RA typically effects smaller joints first, like the wrist and fingers, and may not be noticeable in the hip until symptoms occur.

Psoriatic Arthritis. This type of arthritis can develop in people with psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that can also cause inflammation in your joints. Although psoriatic arthritis typically develops after the skin symptoms begin, it is also possible to experience them before.

Avascular Necrosis. This happens when a bone loses its blood supply and starts to collapse. Typically, we find that avascular necrosis begins to develop in the hip’s femoral head (the ball of the joint). As the tissue dies, the femoral head collapses and loses its shape, resulting in severe hip arthritis.

Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Hip Arthritis

There are several different factors that can cause arthritis in the hip:

  • Age: The older you are, the more likely you have worn out the cartilage in your hip joint.
  • Excess Weight. Being overweight puts additional stress on the hips
  • Injury: Severe injuries, such as fractures or tears can lead to arthritis down the line.
  • Overuse: Intense repetitive motions place stress on the hip over time.
  • Gender: Postmenopausal women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid is seen more commonly in women than men.
  • Structural or Developmental Abnormalities. Irregularly shaped bones can lead to abnormal stress on cartilage over time.
  • Genetics: Autoimmune conditions that run in the family may lead to hip arthritis.

Common symptoms of hip arthritis include:

  • Pain, weakness, and stiffness in the hip
  • Limited range of motion
  • Difficulty walking, sometimes even limping
  • Pain in the hip that may spread to the groin, outer thigh, or buttocks.
  • Pain that is typically worse in the morning and lessens with activity
  • Crepitus – a crunching, cracking, or clicking sound you may hear when moving your hip

hip arthritis

Hip Arthritis Diagnosis

If you think you might have arthritis in your hip, it is important to make sure you receive an accurate diagnosis. During your visit, your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms you are experiencing, followed by a physical examination.

During the physical examination, your hip’s range of motion will be evaluated. Increased pain and limitation during certain movements may be a sign of arthritis.

X-rays and radiographs may be executed to determine if there are any abnormalities in the joint.  In some cases, doctors will undergo a blood test to determine any antibodies that may be associated with a specific type of arthritis.

Hip Arthritis Treatment

Treatment options for hip arthritis vary depending on the severity of your condition, age, overall health, and several other factors. While cartilage loss is irreversible, there are still ways to lessen your pain and prevent further damage.

Non-Surgical

Non-surgical treatment methods for hip arthritis may include the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen
  • Corticosteroids, injections to block inflammation of the joint
  • Physical therapy to improve range of motion, flexibility, and strength. Swimming is a common exercise for those who suffer from hip arthritis.
  • Devices such as canes or walkers, to make it easier and safer to walk
  • Lifestyle changes are highly recommended, such as maintaining a healthy weight, changing your daily activities to minimize stress on the hip, and exercising to slowly build back strength.

Surgical

If non-operative methods have failed to make the patient’s condition bearable, then a surgery may be the best option for treatment. Surgery can help reduce pain, enhance quality of life, and improve your ability to perform everyday activities without being restricted. The forms of surgery that candidates typically undergo consist of:

  • Hip Preservation Surgery. These types of operations prevent damaged cartilage from wearing down further. The following are examples of hip preservation surgeries:
  • Total or Partial Hip Replacement Surgery. Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend a total or partial knee replacement surgery.
    • Total Hip Replacement (Arthroplasty): During this process, the ball and socket of the hip are removed and replaced by artificial implants.
    • Partial Hip Replacement (Hemiarthroplasty): This operation focuses on removing only one side of the hip joint, the femoral head. This procedure is most commonly seen in older patients who experienced a hip fracture.
  • Joint Fusion (Arthrodesis). This method fuses the bones of the hip joint together. This used to be the standard surgery for hip arthritis before replacements became available, but now are a last resort due to its severe impact on patients’ mobility.

Recovery / Healing

As mentioned earlier, arthritis does not have a cure. Typically, it starts gradually and worsens over time. Fortunately, there are several effective methods that can be used to help minimize the effect of arthritis over time.
Hip replacement surgeries have proven to be one of the most successful operations in all of medicine. Recovery time from these surgeries typically range from three to six months.

JIS Orthopedics can diagnose and treat your injury, and help you recover

Do you think you might be suffering from arthritis in your hip? In the early stages, it is most important to get a accurate diagnosis, then start treating your condition with the proper methods used here at JIS Orthopedics. Schedule an appointment with JIS Orthopedics today! We’d love to help you get your body back on track!

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