Osteoarthritis (also known as wear and tear arthritis) is a common condition often affecting those in middle or advanced age. It can present in any joint in the body; however, a large portion of these develop in joints that bear weight, such as the hip. When the cartilage protecting the hip wears down, the bone around the joint loses its normal smooth contours. Eventually this can lead to bone rubbing on bone. The symptoms of hip osteoarthritis symptoms slowly develop – and get worse – over time, and your ability to do ordinary activities is noticeably impacted.
What causes it?
There is no specific cause for osteoarthritis. The condition can still present itself even if you don’t have any of the following risk factors:
- Family history
- Previous injury
- Jobs, sports, and activities placing high stress on the hips
- Congenital issue such as developmental hip dysplasia
How do you know you have it?
Pain around the hip joint is the defining symptom. While sudden onset is possible, osteoarthritis more frequently develops slowly with a downward trajectory, as worsening and more frequent pain becomes the norm.
Additional symptoms include:
- Groin or thigh pain, moving to the buttocks or knee
- Range of motion restrictions that result in a limp
- Joint sticking or locking
- Stiffness that makes bending or walking a challenge
- Pain resulting from vigorous activity
- Grinding noise caused by loose cartilage
How we fix it
The OSI orthopedic team is here to examine you for signs and symptoms of hip arthritis. The following are used to determine the extent of the injury and the best course of care:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will perform a careful and thorough examination and discuss your medical history and the progression of symptoms. Range of motion, gait issues, and injury to surrounding tissue are several focus areas.
- X-rays: In an arthritic hip, X-rays will show a narrow joint space and bone spurs, if present.
- MRI: If needed, an MRI can help assess the condition of the hip structure and the surrounding tissue.
- If a clear diagnosis is not achieved using the above methods, an injection of a local in anesthetic into the hip joint may be recommended as a diagnostic tool.
Lifestyle modifications can be considered when appropriate:
- Activity modification: Includes moving from high impact to lower impact activities to reduce stress on the hip, and decreasing certain activities that irritate the hip (e.g. stair climbing).
- Weight loss: Lose weight to lessen hip joint stress, potentially providing better function and a reduction in pain level.
Other nonsurgical approaches include:
- Physical therapy
- Steroid injection
- Assistive device (cane/crutch)
When nonoperative options to manage your hip pain have been exhausted, surgery may be considered. With mild osteoarthritis associated with labral tears or joint abnormalities, arthroscopic hip surgery may be an option for you. With hip osteoarthritis that has progressed to an advanced stage, total hip replacement is often times the best alternative.