Hip Arthritis

Technical Name: Hip Osteoarthritis

AKA Name: Hip arthritis

Short Summary:

In the normal ball and socket hip joint cartilage lines the femoral head (ball at the top of the thigh bone) and the acetabulum (socket in the pelvis).  When this cartilage wears away it exposes the underlying bone that is very sensitive and thus any movement of the ball now generates significant pain in and around the hip.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis describes the wear and tear degeneration of the joint cartilage lining the bone surface (osteo meaning bone and arthritis meaning painful inflammation of joints).  Cartilage has no nerve endings so is pain free however when this covering wears away it exposes the underlying bone surface that is very sensitive (bone on bone). 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms start with a dull ache and can progress through to severe debilitating pain commonly made worse with any form of movement.  Pain is localized to around the hip, buttock and into the groin but it is very common to experience referred pain into the thigh and the knee.  Pain can make walking long distances difficult and you may notice limping as a consequence also going upstairs and putting shoes and socks on becomes very uncomfortable and difficult.  As things progress you may notice pain even disturbing sleep at night.

How is it diagnosed?

A diagnosis of arthritis is made following a through medical consultation (history and examination) followed by an X-ray to confirm the findings.

The x-ray will demonstrate the extent of the joint cartilage wear within the knee joint however sometimes it may be necessary to undergo further scans such as a CT or MRI scan to gain more information about the hip joint.

How is it treated?

Many patients have arthritis and function to a high level with little impact on their quality of life.  However when this balance changes and the symptoms are become intrusive on your quality of life then this is the stage when treatment options can be considered

  • Non operative treatments include
    • Weight loss helps reduce the load through the hip and the pelvic muscles and slow down any progression of the arthritic change already present
    • Physiotherapy to maintain muscle strength and range of movement
    • Pain killers including paracetamol and anti-inflammatories
    • Injections into the hip of local anaesthetic and steroids as well as visco-supplementation (artificial joint fluid) in some cases. 
  • Operative treatments (surgery) are considered when patients symptoms become highly intrusive in their everyday life, x-ray findings show arthritis and other treatment options have been exhausted or are unlikely to be effective.
    • Total Hip Replacement (THR) replaces the ball and the socket joint with an artificial joint consisting of both metal and plastic components.

Important: this information given above is only a guideline as is not complete.  For more information or to book an appointment please contact us.