Arthritis, or degeneration / inflammation of the joints, can affect the hip joint. It is estimated by a 2010 survey that 22% of the US population have some form of arthritis. This condition is also reported to result in compromised work-life in a third of all working-age arthritis patients. Based on the etiology of the disease, hip arthritis can be classified into osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or psoriatic arthritis.
The hip joint comprises of the ball-shaped end of the thigh (femoral) bone located inside the hip (acetabular) socket. Smooth cartilage tissue lines the insides of the joint, helping to ease movement. Over time, as the cartilage wears away, and the ball and socket bones grind with each other, resulting in pain and decreased mobility at the hip joint.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, can affect the hip joint, and is caused by normal wear and tear over the years. Advanced age, obesity, history of hip injury and structural abnormalities of the hip are other risk factors for developing osteoarthritis at the hip joint.
Similar to other joints of the body, the hip joint has a protective lining, known as the synovial lining. In addition, a lubricating joint fluid is present inside the joint capsule. Both the synovial lining and joint fluid act as a lubricant to support smooth movements.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling of the synovial lining, and over time leads to the deterioration of the joint. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by immunological problems rather than routine wear and tear.
Ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory condition of the spine and sacroiliac joint, may affect the hip joint. Another serious autoimmune condition, systemic lupus erythematosus, can affect different parts of the body, including the hip joint. Finally, psoriatic arthritis is also known to affect the hip joint in some cases.
Typical symptoms of hip arthritis include pain in the hip joint and surrounding areas, difficulty walking, stiffness and the worsening of symptoms with activity.
Hip arthritis is diagnosed by physical examination, X-ray scans of the joint structures and blood tests to detect autoimmune abnormalities.
Hip arthritis can be managed by over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medications (e.g. ibuprofen). Corticosteroid injections can be administered to control painful swelling at the site. Physical therapy exercises, particularly swimming, can benefit arthritis sufferers by improving muscle strength and joint flexibility. Symptom-modifying antirheumatic drugs (SMARDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a powerful line of new drugs that can control arthritis in some patients.
Surgery may be necessary for patients who do not respond well to conservative therapies. If the hip joint is severely damaged, total hip replacement surgery may be required. Osteotomy surgery is better suited for moderate hip arthritis cases, wherein the joint surfaces are repositioned to improve load-bearing.
Stem cells are primitive cells present in the body that can undergo differentiation to form different types of cells, such as bone, blood, nerve, cartilage, tendons, etc. Due to their regenerative capacity, stem cells hold great promise for repairing damaged tissues of the body. However, with age, the body loses its ability to recruit enough stem cells at the site of damage to mediate repair. In this regards, stem cell therapy benefits patients by injecting autologous or allogeneic stem cells at the site where they are most needed.
Unlike invasive surgical procedures, stem cell therapy is an outpatient procedure. Adult stem cells derived from the patient’s bone marrow or fat deposits, are transferred back to the hip joint area to enhance regeneration of affected tissues. Mesenchymal stem cells are known to differentiate into bone, cartilage, tendons and ligament.
Not only do these stem cells generate new healthy cells in the body, they also secrete anti-inflammatory factors, such as cytokine, to control painful arthritis symptoms. Unlike steroid injections, stem cell injection does not have side effects and is well-tolerated in patients.
While hip surgeries, such as total hip replacement, requires a lengthy recovery process, stem cell therapy is a simple procedure with no down time. Moreover, although artificial hip joints have benefitted many patients severely affected with arthritis, these joints last for only 15 years. Stem cells, on the other hand, help to prevent damage of the cartilage and joint, and regenerate lost tissues through natural healing.
R3 Stem Cell Clinics offer several types of regenerative medicine procedures including:
Amniotic and Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Treatments