#condition - Hip

Hip Arthritis

  • The hip joint is a ball and socket joint
  • There is a layer of cartilage covering the ball and a layer of cartilage lining the socket
  • Hip arthritis is where this cartilage wears away, eventually exposing bare bone
  • Arthritis in the hip causes pain and stiffness
  • The pain can be felt in the hip, groin, thigh or even in the knee
  • Early arthritis may respond to painkillers, physiotherapy or hip injections
  • Advanced arthritis is treated by hip replacement surgery
  • Hip replacement surgery gives excellent results for pain relief and restoration of function

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What is Hip Arthritis?

Arthritis of the hip is a painful condition, where the cartilage in the hip joint wears away, leaving bone rubbing on bone within the joint. The symptoms are normally an aching or burning pain within the joint, with stiffness. The pain is often felt in the groin or down the front of the thigh (referred pain). Arthritis of the hip can even sometimes cause pain to be felt in the region of the knee.

Sometimes there may also be cartilage tears or loose pieces of cartilage or bone within the joint, and these may cause sudden sharp pains, locking (when the hip becomes fixed) or giving way of the hip.

In severe arthritis, the leg can become slightly shortened, with the hip joint becoming severely stiff. Walking becomes painful and daily activities such as reaching down to put on socks can become increasingly difficult.

Normal x-ray and arthritic hip x-ray

Normal Hip X-ray – note the gap between the femoral head (ball) and acetabulum (socket)

Arthritic hip X-ray - note that the gap betwen the head and acetabulum has disappeared and the bone is eroding away.

Arthritic hip X-ray – note that the gap betwen the head and acetabulum has disappeared and the bone is eroding away.

Non surgical treatment of early hip arthritis include:

  • Walking aids
  • Glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulphate tablets
  • Simple painkillers
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Physiotherapy

When the various non-operative measures have failed to control the symptoms of hip arthritis, surgical treatment becomes an option for those patients with significant symptoms.

Potential surgical treatments for hip arthritis include:-