Hip osteoarthritis is a form of joint disease caused by cartilage in the joints wearing away due to various factors, leading to pain and stiffness. In severe cases, the condition can have a negative effect on a patient’s daily life, such as difficulty with walking, dressing, tying shoes, going up and down stairs, or even getting a good night’s sleep.

Causes of Hip Osteoarthritis

Common causes of hip osteoarthritis include:

  • Genetics; chances of developing the condition are increased if there is a family history of arthritis
  • Poor blood supply to the bones, either temporary or permanent
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or other inflammatory joint diseases
  • Previous injuries to the hip, such as hip dislocation or fractures
  • Infections
  • Abnormality of the hip joint, such as hip dysplasia

Common symptoms of hip osteoarthritis include:

  • Initial signs of hip osteoarthritis include pain in the groin area or front of the thighs and a feeling of stiffness during movement of the hip joint. Symptoms worsen during physical activity and decrease while resting.
  • In cases where there is severe pain, it could lead to muscle deterioration as the muscles around the hip joint weaken through inactivity.
  • When there is inflammation of the hip joint, bone spurs around the hip joint may occur. Furthermore, if the cartilage is completely worn away, this may cause extreme pain as the bones grind together. The leg may even shorten because of this.

The following are the standard methods often used to diagnose hip osteoarthritis:

  • A full body examination and evaluation of the patient’s medical history
  • An x-ray
  • Special investigations, such as CT scan and MRI

Treatment of hip osteoarthritis is divided into:

  • Non-surgical treatments – For the initial stages of hip osteoarthritis in order to reduce pain as well as slow down the course of the condition:
    • Lifestyle modifications – Examples include getting enough sleep and doing non-strenuous exercise such as swimming, water aerobics and/or cycling.
    • Weight reduction – If overweight or obese, weight loss can reduce stress on the joints.
    • Non-steroidal pain relief medications – Reduces pain and inflammation.
    • Physical therapy – In order to build up the muscles around the hip and to reduce joint stiffness.
    • Using a walking stick or other walking aids on the opposite side of the affected hip – This helps to take the weight and pressure off the affected hip, making walking much easier.
  • Surgical treatments
    • Arthroscopic Surgery – This is offered to patients whose hip joint cartilage is torn or has bone fragments present, or where the cartilage has seeped into the joint causing a grinding of the bones and severely hindering movement.
    • Hip Osteotomy – A form of surgery which realigns the hip joint to offload the damaged cartilage contact area. This technique can be utilized if one area has become damaged but the other areas surrounding it are unaffected.
    • Hip Replacement Surgery – This is offered to patients who suffer from severe joint pain or have a congenital hip joint defect that can affect their ability to lead a normal life.
      • Standard total hip replacement surgery
      • Robotic arm assisted hip replacement surgery (MAKOplasty)

With such a range of options available, it is important that patients seek the advice of their doctor, who will consider which treatment technique is most suitable for each individual patient.

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