HIP joint arthritis
About the hip joint
The hip is a ball and socket joint that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the acetabulum (socket). The surfaces of the hip joint are covered in a lubricated low friction cartilage and the joint is made more stable by connected ligaments, tendons and muscles.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is the wearing of the joint, which includes thinning and damage to the cartilage, together with the formation of bony spurs and cysts. There are a number of different types of hip joint arthritis; the most common is osteoarthritis.
What are the symptoms of hip arthritis?
People with hip arthritis typically experience groin and buttock pain which gradually worsens over time. Pain is also often felt in the thigh and sometimes the knee; this is known as 'referred pain'. Intermittent episodes of more severe discomfort lasting days or weeks are common. Hips that have arthritis gradually become stiff, which can cause difficulty with daily activities such as putting on footwear. Painful catching and night pain are other common symptoms.
Can hip arthritis be treated without surgery?
Yes. Many patients with hip joint arthritis benefit from non-surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatments may reduce pain and improve function, delaying or removing the need for surgery. For this reason, I strongly recommend patients with hip arthritis trial non-surgical treatments before undertaking an operation. It should be noted however that most types of arthritis are permanent and progressive. While non-surgical treatments may assist in improving your symptoms, the condition will remain. If your symptoms are persistent despite adequate non-surgical treatment, then an operation may be a better alternative. See 'Non-Surgical Treatments' for further information.
What operations can be used to help?
Artificial joint replacements are a reliable and safe way of providing excellent long term pain relief. For patients who require artificial joint replacement, the alternatives include Total Hip Replacement (THR) or Hip Resurfacing. Some patients with less extensive joint damage may benefit from hip arthroscopy (key-hole surgery) or other joint preserving surgical procedures. I will recommend a particular treatment based on your individual requirements.
This information has been written by Dr Patrick Weinrauch for the purposes of patient education. The details provided are of general nature only and do not substitute for professional recommendations based an individual clinical assessment.