Hip Osteoarthritis

Arizona Orthopedic Surgery Solutions for Hip Osteoarthritis

Table of Contents - Hip Osteoarthritis
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    What is Hip Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis, more commonly known as “wear and tear” arthritis, is a relatively normal issue among middle-aged and senior adults, setting in at about fifty years of age, but has been known to occur sooner. Osteoarthritis is not limited to the hips, however it is most common in joints that carry the weight of the body, such as knees and hips. The cartilage in the hips becomes thin from use over the years and causes pain, making it obvious as to why it is more common in older folks rather than younger folks. As the cartilage continues to wear away, everyday tasks can increase in difficulty due to increasing pain and limited range of motion, all the way to where your bones have no cartilage and end up grinding against one another. Bones will end up growing osteophytes, which are simply bone spurs.

    Hip Osteoarthritis Cause

    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 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.

    Hip Anatomy

    The hip is one of the body’s largest joints. It is a “ball-and-socket” joint. The socket 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 (thighbone).

    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.

    Hip Osteoarthritis Symptoms

    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 (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

    Increased joint pain with rainy weather

    Doctor Examination

    During your appointment, your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms and medical history, conduct a physical examination, and possibly order diagnostic tests, such as x-rays.

    Physical Examination

    During the physical examination, your doctor will look for:

    Tenderness about the hip

    Range of passive (assisted) and active (self-directed) 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

    Imaging Tests

    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 (osteophytes).

    Other imaging tests. Occasionally, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or a bone scan may be needed to better determine the condition of the bone and soft tissues of your hip.

    Hip Osteoarthritis Diagnosis

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    Hip Osteoarthritis Treatment

    Physical therapy, assistive technology, along with over the counter medicine can be used to treat pain. As the pain continues to grow, cortisone shots can be used to relieve discomfort. In some cases, surgery will need to be performed. An osteotomy can be performed which cuts either the ball (thighbone) or the socket (pelvis) to relieve the hip of pressure. Sometimes, the hip will need to be resurfaced. This is when the socket is cleared of ruined bone and cartilage and a metal shell is installed to do the job of the socket. The original thighbone is kept and capped with a metal covering to allow for smooth motion.


    After any type of surgery for osteoarthritis of the hip, there is a period of recovery. Recovery time and rehabilitation depend on the type of surgery performed.

    Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength in your hip and to restore range of motion. After your procedure, you may need to use a cane, crutches, or a walker for a time.

    In most cases, surgery relieves the pain of osteoarthritis and makes it possible to perform daily activities more easily.