Osteoarthritis of the hip fundamentals

Osteoarthritis is a condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that surrounds and protects the ends of the bones in the hip joints. Not only does the cartilage around the joints act as a shock absorber, but it also prevents the bones from crushing other bones and causing pain. It is the most common form of arthritis, affecting approximately 16 million Americans. Osteoarthritis is also referred to as degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is not just limited to the hip, but can also appear in the knees, hands and other weight-bearing joints.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis typically develop before age 45 in men and after 55 in women, though it is more common for people over the age of 65. In addition to osteoarthritis of the hip, men can develop it in their knees and spine, and women can develop osteoarthritis in their hands and knees.

What causes the pain?

Osteoarthritis is caused by both primary and secondary factors. Primary osteoarthritis is linked to old age when the cartilage begins to break down due to daily use of the joint. Secondary osteoarthritis, however, is caused by physical factors such as congenital defects and obesity. Some other factors that may cause osteoarthritis are bow legs, a dislocated hip, genetic defects to the cartilage, overuse or injury to the joint, and diabetes and other hormone disorders.

The main symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip include pain in the groin and thigh. Sometimes pain can develop in the knee. Pain varies from person to person depending on their condition. Some people suffer excruciating pain, while others have very minor symptoms.

Osteoarthritis is considered a progressive disease and worsens over time. Patients can develop other symptoms such as loss of movement, stiffness and swelling in the hip and snapping of the hip. In addition, patients can develop bone spurs and one leg can appear shorter than the other.

If any of these symptoms develop, patients should seek physician counsel and diagnosis for treatment.

What are the benefits of treatment?

While there is no cure for osteoarthritis of the hip, patients can seek treatment to reduce the pain and minimize the long-term effects of the disease. Surgery is not common in most cases. Ultimately, the treatment depends on each individual patient and his or her condition and prognosis. In severe cases of osteoarthritis of the hip, hip replacement surgery may be recommended to reduce pain and increase mobility. Click here [link to content] for more information on hip replacement surgery.

Your physician will conduct a physical exam to diagnose your condition and provide recommendations for treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip. He or she may also take X-rays, perform blood tests or take fluid from the joint to confirm the diagnosis.

Your physician may recommend different medications for pain control based on your treatment plan, which include aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to minimize swelling and pain.

What are the risk factors?

The risk factors of osteoarthritis of the hip are based on the patient’s medical condition and include: bow legs, a dislocated hip, genetic defects that affect the cartilage, overuse or injury to the joint, diabetes, gout or other hormone disorders.

How can I manage at home after surgery?

For treatment at home for osteoarthritis of the hip, your physician may recommend limiting activities that cause pain, such as climbing stairs, and using assistive devices for daily living such as a wall bar for your bath tub. In addition, practicing the following activities may help alleviate pain and discomfort: exercising on a regular basis, using relaxation techniques and stretching exercises, eating a balanced diet and maintaining an ideal weight, and applying ice daily to alleviate pain and soreness.

Your homecare will vary depending on whether you require surgery. Click here for homecare treatment for hip replacement surgery. [link to content]

How frequently should I schedule follow up appointments after surgery?

Based on your individual medical condition and treatment plan, your physician will advise you as to how frequently appointments will need to be scheduled.


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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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