Osteoarthritis of the Hip

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. Both the ball and the socket are formed by bone that is covered with cartilage. The cartilage is present only where ball and socket come together. The cartilage has very little friction and allows the joint to move smoothly and without pain. For a variety of reasons, the cartilage can lose its ability to repair and maintain itself. If this "wearing" of the cartilage continues, the bone beneath the cartilage is exposed resulting pain and stiffness. The severity of wearing of the cartilage may or may not correlate with the amount of pain in the joint. However, complete loss of cartilage (aka "endstage osteoarthritis" or "bone on bone" arthritis) is almost universally associated with some degree pain, stiffness and disability. The pain caused by osteoarthritis is usually worse with any activity that requires pressure on the hip or movement of the hip.

People with hip arthritis commonly report pain and difficulty with prolonged standing and walking, going up and down stairs, putting on shoes and socks, or getting into a car. The treatment of arthritis depends on many factors, including the severity of the cartilage wear, the severity of the pain and stiffness, patient age and activity level, and patient weight and overall health. As a general rule, conservative treatments including activity modification, generalized conditioning, muscle strengthening, physical therapy, medications, the use of a cane, and rest will improve the pain associated with early or moderate osteoarthritis.

For patients with severe cartilage loss and long-standing, progressive hip pain, total hip replacement can offer dramatic improvement in pain, function, and quality of life.

Orthopedic Conditions
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