Osteoarthritis of the Hip

The hip joint supports the body’s weight, making it susceptible to deterioration and erosion just like any other joint in the body. Osteoarthritis of the hip is a type of joint inflammation that is caused by the wearing away of the articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones of the joints, leading to pain and stiffness. If severe this condition can affect many daily activities, such as dressing, tying shoelaces, going up and down the stairs, and even sleeping.

Causes of Osteoarthritis of the Hip

  • Family history of osteoarthritis increases the chances of developing this condition.
  • Lack of blood to the top of the femur (the bone may die from lack of blood).
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Injury at the hip joint, such as dislocation or cracked/broken joint.
  • Infection.
  • Abnormalities of the hip joint, such as the joint being shallower than normal.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Hip

  • The first symptoms of osteoarthritis are stiffness of the joint at the groin or thigh, with pain that increases when the patient is active and improves when the patient rests.
  • If the hip joint is inflamed bone spurs may occur around the joint. If the cartilage has completely worn away the patient may experience severe pain when the bones rub against each other; the leg may also become shorter.
  • If the pain is so intense that the patient must stay still and is unable to twist or extend the hip joint, it may lead to weakness of the leg as the muscles controlling the hip are not as strong due to decreased use.

Diagnosing Osteoarthritis of the Hip

  • History of symptoms and other illnesses, and a physical examination
  • X-ray
  • Other tests, such as an MRI and/or CT scan

Treating Osteoarthritis of the Hip

  • Non-surgical treatment is used to treat the early stages of osteoarthritis of the hip, which can alleviate severe pain and disability as well as slow down the progression of the disease.
    • Lifestyle modifications, including resting the hip, getting enough sleep, and doing light exercises regularly, such as swimming, water aerobics or bicycling.
    • Reduce weight if overweight to decrease pressure on the joint.
    • Take pain and anti-inflammatory medication, but not steroids.
    • Physical therapy to increase strength and reduce stiffness.
    • Use a walking cane on the side opposite of the damaged hip to move weight from the painful hip to the other one to make walking easier.
  • Surgical treatment
    • Endoscopic surgery is used when the cartilage in the hip joint is torn or fragments of bone/cartilage are stuck in the joint, causing friction and impeding movement of the joint.
    • Osteotomy is a procedure where the undamaged portions of the joint are realigned to touch each other. This can be performed only when one area is damaged while the rest is healthy.
    • Hip replacement surgery is the treatment option used for patients experiencing severe pain or deformity that affects their daily lives.

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