What is Hip Arthritis?
Hip arthritis is a degenerative condition. In hip arthritis, the cartilage wears down and as it thins, the joint space reduces and joint becomes inflamed and painful.
There are two main types of arthritis. Firstly, OSTEOARTHRITIS is very common and due to wear and tear. Secondly, there are many different types of INFLAMMATORY ARTHRITIS, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. The main features of osteoarthritis in particular are:
- loss of joint space
- sclerosis or increasing density of the surrounding bone
- cyst formation on each side of the joint (in the femoral head & cup parts of the hip)
- small areas of new bone formation (called osteophytes) around the joint
What are the symptoms of Hip Arthritis?
The symptoms of hip arthritis are variable but usually include pain and stiffness. Pain related to hip arthritis is normally felt in the groin, at the front of the hip. It often radiates or spreads down the front of the thigh towards the knee. Occasionally hip arthritis symptoms are not entirely typical. Patients may be troubled with pain in the buttock or in the side of the hip. Less frequently patients may have knee pain (radiated pain) with no hip symptoms at all. As symptoms deteriorate, many patients may notice that they cannot walk as far as they used to due to pain and discomfort in their hip. Some patients may develop a limp and they may be woken with discomfort through the night with discomfort.
What are the treatment options for Hip Arthritis?
Treatment options for hip arthritis include conservative (non-surgical) management and surgical management. Conservative management is usually the first line of management, best suited to managing early arthritis. Conservative or non-surgical options include pain relief, weight loss, the use of walking aids (such as walking sticks) and physiotherapy.
Once pain becomes more severe and symptoms cannot be managed with conservative treatment, many patients will benefit from joint replacement surgery. This involves replacing the ball and socket joint of the hip. A new ball is fixed at the top of the femur (thigh bone) and a new cup liner is positioned in the socket to hold the ball in place. In the majority of patients, results from hip replacement surgery are excellent, most patients functioning normally again, without pain and able to resume most normal activities
When should I see my doctor?
You should consider consulting your GP if pain around your hip or groin starts to intrude on your day to day activities. As a general rule, if you are limping, with limited walking distance and considering taking pain relief medication, it would be worth while attending your GP.
What are the next steps?
Once the diagnosis has been made, your doctor will often institute early management such as pain relief, advise on weight loss if appropriate and occasionally refer for physiotherapy. Your GP may request x-rays of your pelvis and hip and also recommend some pain relief medication, either as a topical rub or tablets. The GP may also consider referring you for physiotherapy.
Once the diagnosis has been made, your doctor will often institute early management such as pain relief, advise on weight loss if appropriate and occasionally refer for physiotherapy. Your GP may request x-rays of your pelvis and hip and also recommend some pain relief medication, either as a topical rub or tablets. The GP may also consider referring you for physiotherapy. If your symptoms are increasing and you have had limited benefit from conservative treatment options, your GP may consider referring you for assessment by an Orthopaedic Surgeon.This provides an opportunity for further assessment and depending on the underlying problem, surgical treatment options may be considered. Depending on the severity of overall symptoms, your lifestyle may be significantly affected. Orthopaedic referral at this time allows discussion regarding joint replacement surgery.