Hip Arthritis

What is Hip Arthritis?

Hip arthritis is a painful condition of the hip characterised by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint. It is among the most frequent causes of hip pain.

The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is often referred to as  “wear-and-tear” arthritis. In this type of arthritis, the normal smooth cartilage wears away until bare bone is exposed. Other types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis and avascular necrosis of hip.

Hip arthritis usually affects patients aged 50 or above. It is also common in people who are overweight. Some unusual causes of arthritis include:

  • Hip dysplasia — when a hip is not developing properly at infancy or childhood, the underdevelopment of hip joint will lead to arthritis and problems with walking.
  • Legg-calve-perthes disease — the blood supply to the bone is reduced during childhood, which can lead to permanent damage of the hip and early arthritis

The most common symptom of hip arthritis is pain when putting weight on the affected hip, such as during walking or even sitting for a long time. Other symptoms include:

  • A limp, which is the body's way of protecting the hip
  • Difficulty walking over low obstacles on the ground
  • Stiffness, which may cause difficulty with certain activities such as getting into or out of a low chair or a car, or using the toilet
  • Constant pain all the time, including at night as the condition worsens

Treatments for arthritis can include:

  • Heat to relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area
  • Ice to minimise inflammation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)
  • Rest to allow the acute inflammation to subside

Hip replacement surgery may be considered in the following situations:

  • If arthritis limits the patient’s everyday activities such as walking and bending
  • If pain continues while resting
  • If stiffness limits the patient’s ability to move or lift his/her leg
  • If non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs bring only little pain relief

Hip replacement surgery involves the replacement of the thigh bone head (femur) and the hip socket (acetabulum). Hip resurfacing, which retains more of the patient’s bone, may be appropriate for younger and more active patients.

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