Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Sometimes called wear and tear arthritis, osteoarthritis is a common condition that many people develop after age 50, although it can occur at an earlier age, or after trauma to the joint. It can occur in any joint of the body but most often develops in weight-bearing joints, such as the hip. Osteoarthritis of the hip causes pain and stiffness. It can make it hard to do everyday activities, like bending over to tie a shoe, rising from a chair, or taking a short walk. Because osteoarthritis gradually worsens over time, the sooner you start treatment, the more likely it is you can lessen its impact on your life. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis there are many treatment options to help you manage pain and stay active.

The hip is one of the body’s largest joints. It is a ball and socket joint. The joint is formed by the acetabulum which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball is the femoral head which is the upper end of the femur or thigh bone. The bone surfaces of the ball and socket are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth slippery substance that protects and cushions the bones and enables them to move easily. The surface of the joint is covered by a thin lining called the synovium. In a healthy hip, the synovium produces a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and aids in movement. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears away over time. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough and the protective joint space between the bones decreases. This can result in bone rubbing on bone. To make up for the lost cartilage, the damaged bones may start to grow outward and form bones spurs or osteophytes.

Osteoarthritis has no single specific cause. But there are certain factors that may make you more likely to develop the disease including increasing age, family history of osteoarthritis, previous injury or trauma to the hip joint, obesity, improper formation of the hip joint at birth, a condition known as developmental dysplasia of the hip. Even if you do not have any of the risk factors listed above you can still develop osteoarthritis.

The most common symptom of hip osteoarthritis is pain around the hip joint. Usually, the pain develops slowly and worsens over time, although sudden onset is also possible. Pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning or after sitting or resting for a while. Over time, painful symptoms may occur more frequently including during rest or at night. Additional symptoms may include pain in your groin or thigh that radiates to your buttocks or your knee, pain that flares up with vigorous activity, stiffness in the hip joint that makes it difficult to walk or bend, locking or sticking of the joint, and a grinding noise called crepitus during movement caused by loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue interfering with the smooth motion of the hip, decreased range of motion in the hip that affects the ability to walk and may cause a limp, and increased joint pain with rainy weather.

Most patients seek the advice of a medical professional when their symptoms begin to encroach on their quality of life or their activities of daily living. During your appointment, your UNOVA physician will discuss your symptoms and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and possibly order diagnostic tests such as x-rays. During the physical examination your doctor will look for tenderness about the hip, range of motion, crepitus – a grating sensation inside the joint with movement, pain when pressure is placed on the hip, problems with your gait – the way you walk, any signs of injury to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the hip.

X-Rays: these imaging tests create detailed pictures of dense structures like bones. X-rays of an arthritic hip may show a narrowing of the joint space, changes in the bone, and the formation of bone spurs or osteophytes. Other imaging tests, occasionally a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan), computer tomography (CT scan), or a bone scan may be needed to better determine the condition of the bone and soft tissues of your hip.

If it is determined that you are a surgical candidate you will be scheduled to see the medical assistant to select a date of surgery, obtain your final surgical planning x-rays, and participate in a joint replacement class. It is our goal to provide you with the information necessary to alleviate any anxiety you may have about the surgical process.

At UNOVA Hip and Knee Center, we will continuously strive to deliver the highest quality care in a patient-centered and friendly environment.