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What is Hip Arthritis and How Do I Know if I Have it?

what is hip arthritis?

What is Hip Arthritis?

Including types, causes, symptoms and treatments

Arthritis is a term for any condition or disease that causes joint inflammation and resulting symptoms. The word itself comes from the Greek words for joint and disease and it can affect any joint in the body, including the hips. As some of the most critical joints in the body, the hip joints can be especially vulnerable to the stresses that increase the risk of developing arthritis and can make the symptoms among the most difficult to live with. 

To help patients become more informed about the condition, we have prepared the following guide. Whether you have been diagnosed with a type of arthritis or are investigating potential symptoms, we hope the following information is of assistance. Our representatives are here to help with answers to questions or to help you learn more about treatment options, so don’t hesitate to reach out. 

Causes and types of arthritis affecting the hips

The specific causes of arthritis of the hips are dependent on the type of arthritis, of which there are more than 100, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Some of the most common forms of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis — Also known as degenerative arthritis, this type is mainly caused by the natural aging process. Over time, the cartilage that protects the ends of joints begins to wear down, while joint fluid naturally dries out. The result is pain and inflammation in the joints. 
  • Rheumatoid arthritis — Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy tissue, such as the joints. The causes of rheumatoid arthritis aren’t fully understood, but there are believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors involved.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis — This is a term for joint inflammation that is related to an injury that causes an acceleration of joint tissue degeneration. This can be related to chronic injuries or injuries that are not allowed to heal properly and increase stress on the joint. 

While there is no way to fully prevent the development of any type of arthritis, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco products, staying physically active, practicing proper posture and managing weight are all effective ways to reduce strain on the joints and/or decrease the body’s inflammatory response. 

Arthritis of the hip symptoms

Symptoms of hip arthritis also vary depending on the specific type. For example, osteoarthritis of the hip is more likely to develop on one side or the other, while rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect both sides of the body. 

There are common symptoms that occur among all forms of arthritis however. Telltale signs of hip arthritis include: 

  • Hip stiffness and immobility, particularly in the morning
  • Aches and pains in the hip 
  • Feelings of the hip locking or seizing
  • Crepitus, a term for cracking and popping in the hip 

Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms on a persistent basis should schedule an appointment with their doctor for diagnosis. 

How doctors diagnose hip arthritis 

Initial diagnosis for hip arthritis generally consists of the following steps: 

  • Discussion of symptoms and lifestyle
  • Review of medical history to see if there is a history or predisposition for arthritis in you or your family
  • Physical examination to test range of motion and detect painful areas
  • Diagnostic testing, including X-ray or MRI, blood testing and other evaluations to confirm diagnosis or rule out other conditions

In some cases, patients may be referred to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, if more extensive testing is required to reach a positive diagnosis. After diagnosis is confirmed, the next step is to create a personalized treatment plan to manage symptoms. 

Nonsurgical arthritis of the hip treatments

Arthritis is generally not a reversible disease, but there are effective treatment options to manage symptoms and potentially slow down progression. One of the most important things a patient can do is practice a healthy lifestyle, including many of the prevention strategies mentioned above. Doctors will also suggest conservative treatments to help reduce pain and increase mobility for arthritic patients. These include: 

  • Over-the-counter medications, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen
  • Physical therapy exercises and manual therapies to strengthen the hip and increase flexibility
  • Cold compression to fight inflammation and temporarily relieve pain
  • Heating pads to relax tense muscles and promote blood flow
  • Periods of rest to reduce stress on the hip
  • Prescription medications, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis

By finding the right mix of treatments and committing to a healthy lifestyle, many patients are able to successfully manage symptoms and maintain daily activity levels. 

When does hip surgery become an option for arthritis?

Patients with hip arthritis may be referred to a surgeon if symptoms are seriously debilitating and conservative treatments have been fully explored. For any form of arthritis, total or partial hip replacements are a common recommendation. The goal of hip replacement is to remove damaged portions of the hip joint and replace them with an artificial prosthesis that enables smoother and less painful motion in the hip. 

With the continued development of surgical technology and techniques, surgeons can now perform these procedures at an outpatient surgery center. This can help patients avoid a lengthy and costly hospital stay, while offering the opportunity for a shorter recovery due to minimal disruption of soft tissue in the hip joint. 

Reach out to the USA Spine Care team to learn more

If hip arthritis symptoms are negatively affecting your life and taking you away from the people and activities you love, contact USA Spine Care today. We’ll help you learn about our full range of treatment options that can help you find lasting relief.

Call toll free 1-866-249-1627 to speak with a patient care representative.

Arthritis of the Hip "Quick Answers"

Trauma or injury, degeneration joint disease due to wear and tear over time, and cartilage damage are causes arthritis of the hip.

Low-impact exercise, and living a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to slow arthritis of the hip. Some studies also show that certain supplements help with cartilage formation. According to a study published on NIH: Glucosamine (G) 1,500 to 2,000 mg/d and chondroitin sulfate (Cs) 800 to 1,200 mg/d and avocado-soy unsaponifiables (ASU) 300 to 600 mg/d, taken together or alone, are useful as adjunct therapies in cartilage disorders.

Arthritis of the hip can be treated both non-surgically and through surgical procedures. It's best to start with the most conservative form of treatment  and always in conjunction with your doctor's approval.

  1. Exercise
  2. Physical Therapy
  3. Pain management
  4. Hip Resurfacing
  5. Total Hip Replacement
  6. Regenerative Medicine
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