Hip Arthritis

B. Eugene Brady, MD
Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon

What is hip arthritis?
Hip arthritis is a degenerative joint disease, characterized by the wearing away of cartilage in the hip joint. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones of the joint no longer have the protection which enables them to glide together smoothly. Bare bone is then exposed within the joint, resulting in fraction when the joint is in motion.

Hip arthritis typically affects patients over 50 years of age, and is more common in those who are overweight. Trauma to the hip joint, or to the bones around it, can also be a factor, and the disease is also known to run in families.

The symptoms of hip arthritis
Symptoms of hip arthritis generally progress as the condition worsens, however they can also vary in intensity based on factors such as weather changes and varied levels of usage of the joint. The most common symptoms include pain with activities, limited range of motion, stiffness in the hip, or walking with a limp.

Diagnosing hip arthritis
Evaluation of a patient with symptoms of hip arthritis begins with a physical exam, during which your doctor may rotate, flex, or extend the joint to check for pain. Both hips will most likely be x-rayed to check for joint spacing abnormalities as well.

Treatment options for hip arthritis
Treatment for hip arthritis usually begins with limiting certain activities which stress it. Incorporating gentle physical therapy exercises is also important to keep range of motion in tact and prevent muscular atrophy. Weight loss can be a key component in lessening the pain as well; the less weight the joint has to carry, the better. To alleviate pain, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can be used.

In later stages of hip arthritis, the hip joint may hurt even at rest, or the hip may become deformed. In these cases, your doctor may recommend hip replacement surgery. During this procedure, the damaged cartilage is removed and a metal and plastic ball and socket replacement is placed in the hip. After a rehabilitation period, during which you may need crutches or a walker, movement of the joint and pain relief is greatly improved.

Early evaluation is key
If you believe you may be experiencing symptoms associated with hip arthritis, speak to your doctor. Early evaluation is key in diagnosing and treating the condition.