Hip Arthritis

Arthritis means "inflammation of the joint". The most common kind of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is often referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis of the hip or degenerative joint disease. Basically, osteoarthritis is characterized by a progressive wearing away of the joint cartilage. This results in inflammation within the joint itself. The cartilage is a protective structure of the hip and when it wears away, the bare bone is exposed within the joint. Other types of hip arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (a systemic immune system disease), ankylosing spondylitis (an inflammatory disease of the spine and sacroiliac joint), and systemic lupus erythematosus (an autoimmune disease where the body harms its own healthy cells and tissues).

Who has Hip Arthritis?

Hip arthritis usually affects people over the age of fifty. It is seen more commonly in those who are overweight. Weight loss can reduce the symptoms that are related to hip arthritis.

Hip osteoarthritis can be cased by such mechanical issues as hip dysplasia (shallow hip socket), or hip impingement. Other factors that can lead to hip arthritis include traumatic injuries to the hip and fractures to the bone of this joint.

What are the symptoms of Hip Arthritis?

Hip arthritis symptoms worsen as the condition worsens. Patients will often report good months and bad months, as symptoms change with the weather conditions. The most common symptoms include:

Dull, aching pain in the groin, outer thigh, and/or buttocks

Limited range of motion of the hip joint

Stiffness of the hip

Pain with activities

Walking with a limp

How is Hip Arthritis diagnosed?

A person with Hip Arthritis will need a thorough physical examination, basic laboratory tests, and X-Rays. This will serve as a baseline for the orthopedic surgeon to reevaluate later examinations and determine the progression of the disease. During the examination, the doctor will have you move your hip in a variety of different positions. X-Rays will show thinning or erosion of the bones and loss of joint space. Sometimes the doctor can detect excess fluid of the joint on an X-Ray.

What is the treatment for Hip Arthritis?

It is important to note that treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, age of the patient, and activity level of the patient. Not all treatments work for every single patient and not all are appropriate for everyone, either. You should discuss your treatment options with an orthopedic specialist. Some of the current therapies include:

Activity Modification - It may be necessary for you to limit certain activities and learn new exercise methods to help you.

Weight Loss - Being a healthy weight is one of the most important treatment modalities. The less weight the joint has to carry, the less pain you will experience.

Walking Aids - The use of a cane or single crutch in the opposite hand from the affected hip will allow a decrease demand placed on the arthritic hip.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications - Your orthopedic specialist may prescribe a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID) for you to help treat the inflammation as well as the pain. Acetaminophen (in moderation) can be an effective medication for the treatment of arthritis.

Physical Therapy - By strengthening the muscles around the affected hip joint, there will be a decrease burden on the arthritic hip. It is important for you to prevent atrophy of the surrounding muscles and structures to maintain functional use of this hip.

Joint Supplements - Glucosamine is a safe and effective joint supplement used in the treatment of hip arthritis.

Hip Replacement Surgery - When non-surgical measures fail, your orthopedic specialist may recommend hip replacement surgery. When the hip joint has reached a point where symptoms are not controlled, a hip replacement procedure is an option. The surgeon will remove the damaged joint surface and replace it with an artificial implant. These implants will wear out as time goes by, so therefore, these surgeries are not done frequently in younger patients. Please note that hip replacement is typically reserved for those people who have tried many other treatments and therapies and still have significant pain during normal daily activities. When a hip replacement procedure is performed, the bone and cartilage on the ball-and-socket hip joint is removed. This is done by using precise instruments to create surfaces that fit perfectly into the area and work well. This creates an artificial hip joint that functions as a new hip.

What are the risks of a Hip Replacement?

Over ninety percent of patients who have hip replacement surgery have positive results. While hip replacement is a common procedure, there still are risks involved. These include:

Blood loss

Blood clots


Leg length difference

Hip implant loosening

Hip dislocation

What can I expect after hip replacement surgery?

Success of this operation will depend on many factors. Hip replacement is typically a successful procedure, but a number of factors affect the outcome. Surrounding painful joints can affect hip surgery outcome. Other medical problems such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, as well as general fitness level also affect outcome after hip replacement surgery.

Author's Bio: 

Phil Downer, MD
Orthopedic Surgeon
5350 Tallman Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Phone: (206) 784-8833
Fax: (206) 784-0676



Cluett, J./OrthopedicsAbout.Com (2011). Hip Arthritis. Retrieved from:


Cluett, J./OrthopedicsAbout.Com (2011). Hip Replacement Surgery. Retrieved from:


AAOS/OrthoInfo (2011). Inflammatory arthritis of the hip. Retrieved from: