What is the hip joint?

The hip consists of a ball (femoral head) and a socket (acetabulum). There are also several ligaments and a thick lining (hip capsule) which help stabilise the joint.

What happens in hip arthritis?

In hip arthritis the bearing surfaces (articular cartilage) between the parts of the joint wears out. This results in friction within the joint, with a loss of the normal gliding action. This can cause stiffness in the joint, groin pain and difficulty walking. When the arthritis becomes severe the two ends of the bone rub against each other and can cause a ‘grating’ sensation. As the joint becomes stiffer it can result in pain in the same knee or even the opposite hip. This may also cause a limp when walking.

What is the treatment for hip arthritis?

Simple pain killers can be used to help control your symptoms and allow you to undertake everyday activities. In the early stages of arthritis it is important to keep the hip moving and maintain the strength in the surrounding muscles. A physiotherapist can help direct you to the most appropriate exercises. Sometimes symptoms can be further improved by modifying the type of activities you do. For example trying cycling and swimming can reduce the forces going through your joint compared to walking and running. When the pain becomes more severe, impacts on your quality of life or causes sleep disturbance then this is where hip replacement surgery may be indicated.

Hip Arthritis