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OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE HIP

In order to understand this condition it is important to understand the anatomy and function of the hip. Please read Hip Pain Info's section on the anatomy of the hip.

What is osteoarthritis?

The word arthritis means inflammation (swelling) of a joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and results in the joint "wearing out" over time. For this reason, osteoarthritis is also called "wear and tear" arthritis.

What is osteoarthritis of the hip?

Articular cartilage covers the surface of the bones inside the hip. Articular cartilage is very smooth and it also cushions the joint surfaces. Over time the articular cartilage can thin or form cracks. Tiny pieces of cartilage may come loose, float inside the hip and irritate the joint. In some cases the cartilage can become completely "worn away" and the bones begin to rub together.

What does osteoarthritis of the hip feel like?

Osteoarthritis usually comes on slowly and results in pain and stiffness in the hip. Sometimes pain is felt further down the leg. Osteoarthritis does not always cause pain. The hip can have a mild amount of osteoarthritis and feel perfectly fine.

How is osteoarthritis of the hip detected?

Most types of treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip work best when started early, before there is a lot of "wear and tear". For this reason establishing a correct diagnosis is very important. In most cases osteoarthritis of the hip can be diagnosed based on the medical history, physical examination and an x-ray of the affected hip.

What causes osteoarthritis of the hip?

No one knows for sure what causes osteoarthritis of the hip to develop but some risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history of osteoarthritis
  • Previous hip injury or fracture (broken bone)
  • Damage to the hip from another type of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout
  • Being overweight

What is the treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip?

Every osteoarthritic hip is different. There should be a team approach to treatment. Treatment options include exercises to improve range of motion and strength, medications to relieve pain and swelling, education on activity modification, weight loss, injections and in some cases surgery. Doctors and Physical Therapists that deal with people that have osteoarthritis can help outline a treatment program.

Is there a cure for osteoarthritis of the hip?

A lot can be done to help people who have osteoarthritis of the hip. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and maintain or improve mobility of the affected hip. Unfortunately there is no known cure for osteoarthritis of the hip.

What other information is available on osteoarthritis of the hip?

Hip Pain Info's links section has additional information on osteonecrosis of the hip. Links have been provided to other websites as well as online medical journals. Visit Joint Pain Info for information on other joint injuries and problems.


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