Do You Have Signs of Early Hip Arthritis?

Locking, grinding, limping, pain, discomfort when walking up the stairs, and being unable to stand or sit for long periods. Do these common symptoms of arthritis in the hip sound or feel familiar?

If you said yes, education around hip arthritis can be helpful while on the road to recovery.

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The “ball” is considered the top of your thigh bone, which sits in the “socket” formed by part of the pelvic bone. Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that covers the surface of the bone and helps protect and cushion the joint to decrease friction and increase the range of motion (1).

As arthritis in the hip worsens, the cartilage that cushions the bones starts to deteriorate, resulting in inflammation and pain.

Those who have arthritis in the hip quickly notice that everyday tasks such as bending over to pick something up, getting up from a chair, or going for a walk become more challenging and are extremely painful.

In the early stages of hip arthritis, your doctor might prescribe cortisone injections to help ease pain in the hip. Over time changes in hip mobility and increased pain may occur, and can lead to the decision of needing hip replacement surgery(1,2). It can be extremely frustrating when you’re no longer able to do the things you love because you’re limited by your hip.

Types of Arthritis

It’s important to know the type of arthritis that you’re experiencing in your hips. This is because different types of arthritis require different treatments when specifying your plan of care. 

Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage of the hip joint gradually wears down which over time leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and lack of mobility. This type of arthritis is the most common type of hip arthritis and may occur only on one side(1,3).

Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and a loss of function in the joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the cartilage that protects the joints(1).

In addition to the more common types of arthritis above, other types of arthritis could be causing your discomfort. It’s best to check with a physician or doctorate-level physical therapist as early as possible to treat and maintain mobility and function in the hip joint(2).

Common Symptoms of Arthritis in the Hip Include:

  • Pain in the hip joint (may include pain in the grown, buttocks, and outer thigh)
  • Pain on the inside of the leg
  • Stiffness in the hip in the morning
  • Decreased range of motion when flexing the hip
  • Pain when going up the stairs or bending down
  • Pain lying on the hip 

If you are looking for lifestyle changes to help improve your range of motion and strengthen the muscles of the hip, working with a doctorate-level physical therapist can help. With longer one-on-one appointments, continued education, and a personalized plan of care, physical therapy exercises can drastically relieve stiffness, improve your flexibility, build strength, and increase your ability to move your joints to their full range of motion.

Whether your goal is to relieve the pain so you can prevent hip replacement surgery, or if you are looking for a faster recovery time post-surgery, we have the expertise and tools to help you get back to doing the daily activities you love.

References: 

1. Arthritis of the Hip. Washington University Physicians. https://www.ortho.wustl.edu/content/Patient-Care/3207/Services/Hip-Knee/Adult-Reconstruction-and-Hip-Preservation-Overview/Arthritis-of-the-Hip.aspx.

2. Inflammatory Arthritis of the Hip. OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/inflammatory-arthritis-of-the-hip.

3. Osteoarthritis of the Hip. OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/osteoarthritis-of-the-hip.

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