Hip Arthritis

Understanding Your Condition

What are common causes of hip pain?

There are a number of potential causes of hip pain. As we get older, one of the most common causes of hip pain is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis or ‘wear and tear’ joint. This is when the cartilage in the hip joint breaks down, converting a smooth, frictionless surface into a rough one. Another common cause of hip pain is trochanteric bursitis, inflammation of soft tissue located next to the thigh bone. Less common causes of hip pain include femoral head avascular necrosis (AVN), rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

What are the symptoms of hip osteoarthritis?

The most common symptom is pain. Hip osteoarthritis pain is commonly located in the groin, but it can also cause pain in the buttock or knee. Hip arthritis rarely causes pain below the knee into the foot. Additionally, it does result in numbness or tingling in the leg. If you have these symptoms, then your hip specialist may evaluate your lumbar spine for signs of degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis. Another common symptom of hip arthritis is stiffness, limitation in hip range of motion. Patients may notice difficulty with bending activities, such as putting on shoes and socks.

How is hip osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Hip osteoarthritis is diagnosed with a combination of history, physical exam, and imaging. Hip and pelvis x-rays are the most common imaging techniques used to diagnose hip osteoarthritis. Other imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be helpful in establishing the diagnosis.

What are the treatments for hip osteoarthritis?

The first-line treatments for hip osteoarthritis are non-surgical. These include low-impact activity modification, such as biking and swimming. Weight loss can be helpful to reduce pressure on the joint. Offloading the hip by using a cane can improve pain and prevent falls. A hip specialist or your primary physician may prescribe a course of physical therapy or a physician-directed home exercise program in order to increase hip range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the hip, and improve your gait technique. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications may be used to treat pain caused by joint inflammation. Prior to taking NSAIDs, discuss this with your primary care physician, as these medications may have adverse effects on the kidneys and stomach lining.

Where can I learn more about hip osteoarthritis?

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