Normal hip function relies on having an intact joint surface so that the bones in your hip can glide smoothly over each other as the leg moves. Arthritis (meaning joint inflammation) occurs in joints when the protective cartilage that covers the surfaces where two bones meet, is damaged. There are many different reasons why this might occur but the most common cause is osteoarthritis, thought to be the result of wear and tear that occurs in many of us as we age. Other conditions that lead to arthritis include:
- Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Damage to the joint surface after an injury (post-traumatic arthritis)
- Damage to the joint as a result of infection (septic arthritis)
If arthritis develops in the hip, the protective articular cartilage (joint surface) of the femoral head and acetabulum socket are eroded and the space between the two bones is reduced. In severe cases, the bones begin to grind against each other when the hip joint is moved. The symptoms of arthritis include pain, often felt in the groin or knee and stiffness, meaning the hip joint does not move normally.
Your surgeon will spend time speaking with you and then perform an examination of your hip. If hip arthritis is suspected, your surgeon may order investigations such as x-rays of your hip to confirm the diagnosis and to help plan your treatment.
Hip arthritis can be very debilitating and might make it difficult for you to continue with the activities that you enjoy. There are different ways to treat hip arthritis including lifestyle and activity modification, medications, joint injections and surgery. Your surgeon can help you decide which treatment is best for you.