What is hip arthritis?

Arthritis, whether from wear and tear or from autoimmune causes, can wear down the surfaces of the hip joint (the articular cartilage) and gradually remodel the bone of the hip’s ball and socket.

Hip arthritis causes pain and dysfunction and chronic inflammation and degeneration. The chronic inflammation wears down the joint cartilage (the articular cartilage and labrum) as well as forms bone spurs (osteophytes) and, eventually, wears the hip femoral head (ball) and socket (acetabulum).

What causes hip arthritis?

Arthritis in the hip can be caused by osteoarthritis. This is more likely to develop with age, a history of traumatic injury to the hip, obesity or certain genetic risk factors.

Autoimmune forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also can affect the hip joint through abnormal activity in the body’s immune system. The immune system overreacts to the tissue in the hip joint and causes inflammation.

Structural factors, such as a shallow hip socket (hip dysplasia) or an abnormally shaped ball (hip impingement, or femoracetabular impingement – FAI), can contribute to premature wear of the labrum and cartilage, leading to arthritis.

What are the symptoms of hip arthritis?

The symptoms of hip arthritis may include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the hip
  • Pain in the anterior and lateral areas of the hip and groin
  • Sometimes pain that radiates down the front of the thigh to the knee
  • Pain that is a constant ache or throbbing, with intermittent, sharper pain, depending on activities and position
  • Reduced range of motion in the hip, especially with rotating the hip or bending to pick up objects on the floor or change socks and shoes

How is hip arthritis diagnosed?

Diagnosing hip arthritis begins with Ohio State Sports Medicine experts gathering a detailed medical history, physical examination and a list of reported symptoms. We’ll see what types of activities and motions seem to provoke more pain. This includes examining the hip to assess it for a reduced range of motion, feeling for any tender areas and looking for pain with flexion and rotation of the hip.

X-rays are typically part of the initial evaluation to help solidify a diagnosis and rule out other significant problems. This image includes a view of the whole pelvis and anterior and lateral views of the affected hip.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used for better visualization, but in most cases, X-rays are sufficient.

How is hip arthritis treated?

Hip arthritis can be treated surgically and nonsurgically. Nonsurgical treatments can include:

  • Strengthening the hip with physical therapy, potentially including water-based therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Weight loss
  • Activity modification

Injections in the hip can be helpful in some cases. These include a cortisone injection or a more advanced biologic-based treatment, such as platelet-rich plasma injections.

Surgical treatment for hip arthritis is typically a hip replacement. Hip replacement surgery typically involves removing the arthritic surfaces of the hip (both ball and socket) and replacing them with an artificial (metal) socket, socket liner (typically polyethylene), ball (metal or ceramic) and stem (metal).

Why choose Ohio State for hip arthritis treatment?

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center specializes in the most advanced, personalized treatment options for hip arthritis.

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s integrated hip team includes surgeons, sport medicine physicians, physical therapists, clinic staff, administrative staff and a research team who specialize in these types of injuries and treatments. Orthopedic experts at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center lead medical research to improve hip treatment and determine more specific causes for injuries.

Patients at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center also have the unique opportunity to receive new, novel treatments, such as orthobiologic treatments like platelet-rich plasma, and to participate in clinical trials of newly developed therapies.

Learn more about what to expect during your orthopedic procedure


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