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.
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.
HIP JOINT ANATOMY
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
The causes of osteoarthritis of the hip are not known. Factors that may contribute include joint injury, increasing age, and being overweight.
In addition, osteoarthritis can sometimes be caused by other factors:
The joints may not have formed properly.
There may be genetic (inherited) defects in the cartilage.
The person may be putting extra stress on his or her joints, either by being overweight or through activities that involve the hip.
The Joint Preservation, Resurfacing and Replacement department will prescribe the type of treatment that is appropriate for your particular type of arthritis and other factors, including your overall health, your age, and your personal preferences.
Nonsurgical treatment of arthritis of the hip may include any of the following:
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
Corticosteroids, injections to block the inflammation in the joint.
Physical therapy or exercise programs to improve flexibility, build up strength, and maintain muscle tone. Swimming, in particular, is an excellent exercise for arthritis sufferers.
Some types of arthritis may respond to new categories of drugs known as symptom-modifying antirheumatic drugs (SMARDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These are powerful new drugs, which are not appropriate for everyone with arthritis.
Devices such as canes or walkers to make it easier and safer for you to walk.
Lifestyle modifications can also help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis of the hip. These include:
Maintaining a healthy weight (and losing weight, if necessary)
Appropriate pain management
Changing activities to minimize stress on the hip
Exercising to build up strength
Many people with arthritis with the hip are candidates for surgery. Surgery can help to reduce pain, enhance quality of life, and improve your ability to perform everyday activities with fewer or no restrictions.
Total hip replacement may be appropriate if the hip joint is severely damaged
Osteotomy surgery may be appropriate in less severe cases. Hip osteotomy surgery cuts and repositions the joint surfaces in such a way that it allows the healthy part of the hip joint to bear most of the body’s weight. Only a select group of patients are candidates for osteotomy surgery.
If you are an appropriate candidate for hip surgery, the risks and benefits of your surgical options will be discussed.
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