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What You Should Know About Hip Arthritis

Arthritis of the hip can make everyday activities challenging, like bending over to reach something on the floor, standing up from a chair, or even walking. If you think you have hip arthritis, here are some things you should know, including symptoms and pain management options.

There are Different Types of Arthritis of the Hip

There are dozens of varieties of arthritis that can affect the hips, but our Orthopedic surgeons (and those around the country) primarily see osteoarthritis, avascular necrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and arthritis from dysplasia.

Osteoarthritis is also known as degenerative joint disease. It is a painful chronic condition caused by the wear and tear of cartilage, the smooth tissue in joints that protects the bones from friction during movement. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis treated by our Orthopedic surgeons.

Avascular necrosis (AVN), or osteonecrosis, is a lack of good blood flow to the hip joint, resulting in degeneration. This can occur with no known cause but has been connected to the use of steroid medication, excessive alcohol consumption, or a previous hip fracture.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack the lining of a joint, such as the hips. It can cause swelling and chronic pain.

Dysplasia is a malfunction of the hip shape that occurs during development. When someone has hip dysplasia, the hip socket does not fully cover the ball of the femur, making the joint prone to abnormal forces or instability, which can lead to arthritic changes.

Pain is a Common Symptom of Hip Arthritis

The most common symptom of hip arthritis is pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. It is also likely that someone with arthritis may feel stiff in the mornings or after sitting for a long time. In many varieties of this disease, symptoms develop slowly and worsen overtime, but a sudden onset is also possible. Other symptoms may include:

  • Groin or thigh pain that radiates to your buttocks or knee
  • Pain that flares up with activity
  • Hip stiffness that makes it difficult to walk or bend
  • Locking or sticking of your hip
  • Grinding noise in your hip during movement
  • Decreased range of motion that affects the ability to walk or causes a limp
  • Increased hip pain with rainy weather
  • Difficulty standing or putting weight on your hip
  • Fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue (rheumatoid arthritis)

Hip Arthritis Has No Cure But There are Ways to Manage the Pain

Once arthritis develops, it cannot be cured. However, you may be able to slow symptom progression and relieve pain with lifestyle modifications, medications, or hip replacement surgery.

Lifestyle Modifications to Relieve Arthritis Pain

You should always try nonsurgical options to relieve pain before using medication or scheduling a joint replacement surgery. Sometimes avoiding certain activities, exercising more, or using assistive devices can help.

Lifestyle modifications are usually the first recommendation to relieve pain and stiffness. Pay attention to when your hip pain sets in or worsens and make adjustments. Do you notice it after you go up the stairs? You may need to use an escalator or elevator when you can or limit the number of times you use the stairs at home, if possible.

Exercising can be another great way to reduce pain while also strengthening your hip and leg. Avoid high-impact activities like jogging or tennis and instead try exercises that put less stress on your hip like swimming or cycling. You can also work with a physical therapist on specific exercises to increase your range of motion.

Assistive devices like a cane, crutches, or a walker may also improve your mobility and independence. A long-handled reacher can help you avoid movements that cause pain, like bending over to pick up items from the floor or a low shelf.

Medications for Arthritis Pain

There are many medications that can help alleviate joint pain caused by arthritis. Always talk to your doctor before taking any new medications, as it may cause side effects or interact with another medication you are taking. Your doctor may also recommend an alternative option or dose because everyone reacts to medications differently.

Over-the-counter, non-narcotic pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are usually the first suggestions. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) include ibuprofen and naproxen and are available over-the-counter and by prescription. People with certain health conditions should be cautious when taking NSAIDs or avoid them altogether. Acetaminophen is another medication that can relieve pain, especially for those who cannot take traditional NSAIDs.

Hip Replacement Surgery

During a hip replacement surgery, the arthritic ball of the upper femur (thighbone) is removed, as well as damaged bone and cartilage from the hip socket. The ball is replaced with a ceramic or metal ball that is fixed solidly inside the femur. The socket is also replaced, and a durable bearing, or liner, is set within the socket to create a smooth, functioning joint. Our Orthopedic surgeons offer both the traditional posterior approach and anterior approach to hip replacement surgery.

The posterior approach begins with an incision on the side of the hip. Muscles are then split or detached from the hip so the surgical team can view and access the joint.

With the anterior approach, the joint is accessed by making a roughly four-inch incision in the front of the leg and separating the two muscles in front of the hip. The hip is exposed by going between these muscles, which is why this technique is sometimes referred to as a “tissue-preserving” method. The anterior approach often sees faster recovery times due to the shorter incision and limited muscle detachment.

Help for Hip Arthritis Pain at Sauk Prairie Healthcare

Sauk Prairie Healthcare is here to help you manage and treat your arthritis. Our Orthopedic surgeons can offer information and guidance to determine if a hip replacement surgery is right for you. If you are not ready for surgery, our physical therapists can provide education, exercises, and hands-on treatments to help manage your pain.

To schedule an appointment, call the Orthopedics Nurse Navigator at 608-643-7689.