What is Osteoarthritis?
There are many types of arthritis (“joint inflammation”), of which osteoarthritis is the most common. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that usually occurs over many years. It occurs as the joint cartilage breaks down and wears away. Once injured, the body does not grow new cartilage, resulting in less joint space between the bones and can eventually progress to bone rubbing on bone. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but is most common in the larger weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees.
Osteoarthritis of the hip usually develops slowly, with patient symptoms worsening over time. Patients may report pain in multiple locations, including the hip joint, groin, pelvis, thighs, buttocks or referral to the knee. They often have problems walking or will report pain worsening with activity or stiffness and restricted joint movement.
There is no single specific cause of hip osteoarthritis, however factors that may contribute to development include:
- Increasing age
- Hip joint injury
- Being overweight
- Family history
- Genetic defects or issues with joint formation
- Activity that places extra stress and load through the hip joints
It is important to note, that even without the presence of these risk factors, hip osteoarthritis can still be developed.
Hip osteoarthritis can be confirmed through imaging including plain hip X-Rays, CT or MRI investigation. After imaging, management depends on the severity of the joint degeneration.
In mild circumstances, working closely with your physiotherapist to develop a conservative management plan will assist to control pain and maximise function. With more severe hip osteoarthritis cases, surgical intervention is often required, including osteotomy or total hip replacement. Physiotherapist guided rehabilitation is important for a successful outcome following any hip surgery.
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