Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease that many people develop as they age. Although it can occur in any joint in the body, it often develops in weight-bearing ones like the hip.
A healthy hip is able to move easily because of smooth and slippery tissues known as articular cartilage. This cartilage covers and protects the bones that make up the hip joint. However, in patients with osteoarthritis, this cartilage wears away resulting in bone rubbing on bone. Hence, to make up for the loss of cartilage, the bones start growing outward to form painful spurs.
As such, hip osteoarthritis tends to result in pain and stiffness, making it difficult for patients to do daily activities such as bending over to tie a shoe, or taking a short walk.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of hip osteoarthritis is pain; usually the pain occurs in your groin or thigh but can also be present in the buttocks and radiate to the knee. The hip pain usually develops slowly and worsens over time, however sudden onset can also be experienced by some patients. Another common symptom would be pain and stiffness that feels worse in the morning, or after resting for a while.
Other symptoms include:
- Pain that flares up with vigorous activity
- Stiffness and reduced motion in the hip joint, making it difficult for you to walk or bend
- “Locking” of the joint that creates a grinding noise during movement
- Painful limp that affects the ability to walk
- Increased joint pain with rainy weather or a drop in temperature
Causes and Risk Factors
While osteoarthritis does not have a specific cause, there are certain factors that may make you more likely to develop the disease. These include:
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Previous injury to the hip joint, including fractures and dislocation
- Labral tears
- Hip dysplasia
- Femoroacetabular impingement
These factors may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, however you can still develop the disease without any of these factors.
During your appointment with an orthopaedic specialist, they will usually ask about your medical history, symptoms, conduct physical examinations, and order diagnostic tests such as x-rays.
Your doctor will usually look for these symptoms during the physical examination:
- Problems with the way you walk
- Pain when pressured is placed on the hip
- Tenderness around the hip
- Range of passive and active motion
- A grating sensation inside the joint upon movement
- Any signs of injury to the muscles, tendons, as well as ligaments surrounding the hip
X-rays aim to provide detailed pictures of your bones. For instance, x-rays of an arthritic hip may show the narrowing of joint space, changes in the density of the surrounding bone, formation of bone spurs, and bone cysts.
Even though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are a few treatment options that can help to relieve pain and improve mobility.
Most early treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip is non-surgical. Some of these include making lifestyle modifications such as losing weight or minimising activities that may aggravate the condition. Others include using assistive devices such as canes to help to improve mobility and independence. Some orthopaedic specialists may also prescribe medications or hip injections for pain relief and to reduce joint inflammation.
Surgery is only recommended if the pain from your arthritis causes disability and conservative treatments have failed. The most common surgical treatment option is total hip replacement where the doctor removes both the damaged acetabulum and femoral head before positioning new joint surfaces to restore function of your hip. Advances in total hip replacement technology have allow increased longevity of hip replacements, and improved range of motion, allowing patients to greatly improve their quality of life. These include improved surgical techniques for accurate positioning of the hip components, and improved bearing surfaces that improve the stability of the hip joint and reduce wear rates of the implants.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic surgeon for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you are suffering from hip osteoarthritis, let us design an individualised treatment plan for you so that you can enjoy a better quality of life.