Arthritis is a term for any condition/disease that causes joint inflammation and resulting symptoms. The word itself comes from the Greek word for joint and disease and it can affect any joint in the body, including the hips. As some of the most critical joints in the body, the hip joints can be easily vulnerable to stress that increases the risk of developing arthritis and can make the symptoms difficult to live with.
Causes/Types of Arthritis
Arthritis is caused by a variety of conditions, and there are more than 100 types listed by the Arthritis Foundation. Some of the most common forms of arthritis include:
Osteoarthritis: also known as degenerative arthritis, this type is mainly caused by the natural aging process; over time the cartilage that protects the ends of joints begins to wear down, while joint fluid naturally dries out. The result is pain and inflammation in the joints.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s own immune system to attack healthy tissue, such as joints; the causes of rheumatoid arthritis aren’t fully understood, but there are believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors involved
Post Traumatic Arthritis: this is the term for joint inflammation that is related to the chronic injury that causes an acceleration of joint tissue degradation; this can be related to chronic injury or injuries that are not allowed to heal properly and increase stress on the joint
While there is no way to fully prevent the development of any type of arthritis, eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco products, staying physically active, practicing proper posture, and managing weight are all effective ways to reduce strain on the joints and/or decrease the body’s inflammatory response.
Arthritis is not a reversible disease, but there are effective treatment options to manage symptoms and potentially slow down progression. One of the most important things a patient can do is practice a healthy lifestyle, including many of the prevention strategies mentioned above. Doctors will also suggest conservative treatments to help reduce pain and increase mobility for arthritic patients. These include:
Over-the-counter medications, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen
Physical therapy exercises and manual therapies to strengthen the hip and increase flexibility
Cold compression to fight inflammation and temporarily relieve pain
Heating pads to relax tense muscles and promote blood flow
Periods of rest to reduce stress on the hip
Prescription medications, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic arthritis.
By finding the right mix of treatments and committing to a healthy lifestyle, many patients are able to successfully manage symptoms and maintain daily activity levels.
Symptoms of hip arthritis vary depending on the specific type. For example, osteoarthritis of the hip is more likely to develop on one side or the other, while rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect both sides of the body.
Some common symptoms that occur among all forms of arthritis are:
Hip stiffness and immobility, especially in the morning
Aches and pains in the hip
Feelings of the hip locking or seizing
Crepitus, a term for cracking or popping in the hip
Anyone experiencing these symptoms on a persistent basis should schedule an appointment with their doctor for a diagnosis.
The initial diagnosis for hip arthritis will generally consist of the following steps:
Discussion of symptoms and lifestyle
Review of medical history to see if there is a history or predisposition for arthritis in you or your family
Physical examination to test range of motion and detect painful areas
Diagnostic testing, including x-ray or MRI, blood testing, and other evaluations to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other conditions
In some cases, patients may be referred to a specialist, such as a rheumatologist, if more extensive testing is required to reach a positive diagnosis. After the diagnosis is confirmed, the next step is to create a personalized treatment plan to manage symptoms.
Patients with hip arthritis may be referred to a surgeon if symptoms are seriously debilitating and conservative treatments have been fully explored. For any form of arthritis, total/partial hip replacements are a common recommendation. The goal of hip replacement is to remove damaged portions of the hip joint and replace them with an artificial prosthesis that enables smoother and less painful motion in the hip.
With the continued development of surgical technology and techniques, surgeons can now perform these procedures at an outpatient surgery center. This helps patients avoid lengthy and costly hospital stays while offering the opportunity for a shorter recovery due to minimal disruption of soft tissue in the hip joint.
Reach Out to BEST Health System to Learn More
If hip arthritis symptoms are negatively affecting your life and taking you away from the people and activities you love, contact BEST Health System today. We’ll help you learn more about our full range of treatment options that can help you find lasting relief.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms or recieved a diagnosis and need treatment, BEST can help. Take the first step towards relief today.