Your hip is a hard worker. It carries a heavy load even when you’re resting. Your hip bears your body weight when you’re standing, walking, running or sitting. It allows your legs to move back and forth, up and down, and in a rotating motion. It’s one of your largest and most stable joints, so having hip arthritis can have widespread effects on your body and your daily life.
How Will I Know If I Have Hip Arthritis?
The symptoms of hip arthritis usually start slowly and may not immediately seem to be due to a hip problem. You may notice a dull ache in your groin, thigh or buttocks when you get up in the morning. The pain tends to increase with activity and decrease with rest. As hip arthritis progresses, you may feel hip pain even at rest.
Other symptoms you may notice include hip stiffness and difficulty walking, sitting down, or rising. You may also have problems rotating or extending your hip and eventually start to limp.
If you have symptoms of hip arthritis, contact your doctor. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will start with your medical history and physical exam that considers many factors. These include your age, the joints affected, when pain occurs, and other symptoms, such as fatigue, low-grade fever, and achy muscles. Your doctor may also order blood tests and other lab tests to see if your immune system is overactive, and X-rays and other imaging tests to look at the extent of joint damage.
Are There Different Types of Hip Arthritis?
There are many forms of arthritis that can affect your hip. Here are the most common types:
Osteoarthritis (OA) accounts for most cases of hip arthritis. OA, or degenerative joint disease, is the result of wear and tear on your joints. You may have OA in one or both hips.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your joint tissue and other areas of your body. RA commonly affects joints on both sides of your body and can affect other pairs of joints as well as your hips.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that occurs mainly in your spine and where your spine meets your pelvic bone. Spondylitis can also occur in your hips.
Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes problems throughout your body, including inflammation and pain in your hips.
Septic arthritis is a form of arthritis caused by a joint infection.
Traumatic arthritis can develop after a serious hip injury.
Who Gets Hip Arthritis?
You are more likely to get hip arthritis if you have a family history of arthritis, you are overweight or obese, or you’re older than 50 years of age. Other risk factors for hip arthritis include a previous hip injury or hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a problem with the position of your hip joint. Your hip is a ball and socket joint: It joins the end of the long bone of your thigh (the femoral head) to the socket of your pelvic bone. In hip dysplasia, the ball can either slip out of the socket or sit abnormally in the socket, leading to abnormal wear and tear on the joint. Hip dysplasia can be present at birth due to a congenital defect or occur later in childhood or even as an adult.
Can Be Done to Remedy Hip Arthritis?
There are some common strategies to decrease pain and swelling in any kind of hip arthritis. These include anti-inflammatory medicines, physical therapy, exercises to strengthen hip muscles, losing weight if you are overweight or obese, and using assistive devices, such as a walker or cane.
If you have an autoimmune form of hip arthritis, you will also need medicine to control your immune system and keep it from attacking your joints. These treatments include:
Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), which can slow down permanent joint damage
Biologic response modifiers, which block triggers of inflammation and reduce the risk of permanent joint damage
If you have later stages of arthritis or extensive damage or hip pain, your doctor may recommend surgery to resurface, repair or replace the joint. The type of surgery depends on multiple factors including your age, the condition of your hip joint, and the type of arthritis you have. Surgery will improve your pain and ability to walk.