Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Arthritis means “joint inflammation.” It causes pain and swelling in the body’s joints, such as the knees or hips. There are many types of arthritis, but osteoarthritis is the most common. Also known as degenerative joint disease or age-related arthritis, osteoarthritis is more likely to develop as people get older
Why it Occurs
Osteoarthritis occurs when inflammation and injury to a joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissue. In turn, that breakdown causes pain, swelling, and deformity. Cartilage is a firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints. It is primarily made up of water and proteins. The primary function of cartilage is to reduce friction in the joints and serve as a “shock absorber.” The shock-absorbing quality of normal cartilage comes from its ability to change shape when compressed. It can do this because of its high water content. Although cartilage may undergo some repair when damaged, the body does not grow new cartilage after it is injured.
The two main types of osteoarthritis are:
• Primary: More generalized osteoarthritis that affects the fingers, thumbs, spine, hips, and knees
• Secondary: Osteoarthritis that occurs after injury or inflammation in a joint, or as a result of another condition such as hemochromatosis
If you have any of the following symptoms of hip osteoarthritis, talk to your doctor:
• Joint stiffness that occurs as you are getting out of bed
• Joint stiffness after you sit for a long time
• Any pain, swelling, or tenderness in the hip joint
• A sound or feeling (“crunching”) of bone rubbing against bone
• Inability to move the hip to perform routine activities such as putting on your socks
Pain management is among the first-line treatment methods for hip arthritis. For those with mild symptoms, over-the-counter strength ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen may be enough to control the pain. People with moderate-to-severe OA of the hip may require more help in the form of prescription pain relievers. Injected corticosteroid drugs are a more potent solution for severe hip pain that does not go away with oral medications. This type of medication is injected directly into the hip joint and reduces both pain and swelling around the joint.
Hip stretches can be beneficial to people with hip arthritis. Many people with OA find that moving their stiff, achy joints is difficult. Stretching on a regular basis keeps you flexible and helps your hips move more smoothly. Yoga, which involves a lot of stretching, can be a great way to both stretch and reduce stress at the same time. All stretches should be done gently—be sure to stop if you feel pain. You should also be sure to consult with your healthcare provider about any stretches and exercises you may want to do. A few possible stretches include:
Exercise is a great way to stay active and healthy, even when you have hip arthritis. Rest is a main consideration when you’re having a flare-up of OA symptoms. Talk with your healthcare provider about finding a way to fit exercise into your daily routine. Activities like bicycling and swimming are easy on your joints and can be great for people with OA of the hip.