Osteoarthritis (OA) is a term we hear a lot but what actually is it? This page looks at what Hip Osteoarthritis is and what the treatment options are. Osteoarthritis is due to wear of the cartilage. Cartilage is the coating at the end of your bones, and this allows movement between bones (and creates a joint). It has no blood supply, and once you are fully-grown it must last your entire lifetime. Once it wears, you get osteoarthritis.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The primary function of the hip is to support the weight of the body. The surfaces of the joint are covered with cartilage, which allows low friction movement. The joint is stabilised with ligaments, tendons and muscles.
As the cartilage is worn aware (as seen in arthritis), the underlying bone becomes exposed, and bony spurs and cysts can form. There are many reasons for a person to develop OA, such as previous hip fractures and hip injuries, genetic causes, and developmental causes.
Diagnosis of Hip Osteoarthritis
The diagnosis of OA is made using the clinical history, physical examination and imaging, such as x-rays. Blood tests may be used if it is necessary to rule out other types of arthritis.
The Oxford Hip Score (work out your own score) is a very useful tool in assessing the severity of arthritis. It is a Nationally used PROM (Patient Reported Outcome Measure) and is also used before and after surgery to assess success.
Symptoms of Hip Osteoarthritis
- Patients will hip OA often have some (if not all) of the following symptoms;
- Pain – localised to the groin and front or side of the hip.
- Joint stiffness – especially in the morning.
- Limited range of movement, with pain during movement
Treatment of Hip Osteoarthritis
Unfortunately, hip osteoarthritis cannot be cured in the later stages. There are treatments options available to help manage symptoms.
Medications are one way to treat hip osteoarthritis, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti inflammatories. Steroid injections can also be used to reduce inflammation and improve symptoms.
Weight loss. People with a ‘healthy’ weight have around a 20% risk of Hip Osteoarthritis. In patients that are overweight this risk increases to 25% and is even higher at 39% in patients who are classed as obese. If you have a high BMI, weight loss may be one of the first thing your Consultant suggests. This will also be beneficial to you if you do end up having surgery at a later date.
Physiotherapy and exercise. Staying active (as long as you don’t overdo it) will help maintain muscle strength around the joint. It will also help maintain what movement you have left in the joint. It is well documented that moderate exercise is very good for the cartilage despite the presence of OA.
Assistive devices. There are some things that can be done to make living with Hip osteoarthritis a little easier. Using a walking aid, such as a stick, especially if you are going to be walking long distances. Fitting a hand rail as extra support when going up and down stairs. Maybe even fitting a stair life. Even simple things like slip-on shoes so that you are not bent over trying to tie shoe-laces can help.
Surgery is appropriate for patients with hip osteoarthritis who have already tried conservative (non-surgical) treatment options. Surgical procedures include:
- Hip Arthroscopy– an arthroscope checks the condition of the articular cartilage
- Osteotomy– realigns angles of the hip joint
- Total Hip Replacement– new acetabular and femoral components are implanted
- Stem Cells (Not suitable for all patients)
To read more on how Stem Cells can help with cartilage damage – click on the link below