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Hip arthritis is a progressive degenerative condition that affects the hip joints. It is a type of arthritis and is characterized by wearing away of the bones and cartilages around the joint. There is also inflammation of the joint linings and surrounding tissue in hip arthritis. Because of the hip’s important position in the body, this condition can be debilitating. It causes pain and discomfort while limiting the activities that the individual can perform.
There are several types of arthritis, and any one of them can affect the hip. However, the most common type of arthritis associated with the hip is osteoarthritis. Other types include rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and sometimes, psoriatic arthritis. Each of these present with slightly different symptoms, although they have common ones too.
The hip joint is a ball and socket synovial joint, and it’s made up of the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the ilium bone. Along with the ischium and the pubis, the ilium bone forms the pelvis, and these help attach the upper body to the lower limbs. The bones that make up the hip joint are supported by a joint capsule, several ligaments, and muscles. These ligaments and muscles attach to these bones, and they leverage them for movement.
The hip joint is responsible for transferring the weight from the torso to the lower limbs and as a result, it is very prone to conditions like dislocations and arthritis. In arthritis, the more load is placed on the affected joint, the faster the condition progresses, and the worse the joint gets. As a result, hip arthritis is very uncomfortable.
There are two ways in which arthritis affects the hip joint—the primary and the secondary. The primary means is when the hip joint is affected directly by the arthritis, and it involves all the normal phenomena associated with arthritis. These include inflammation of the joint tissue, wear of the joint ligament, and others.
The secondary means is also known as the indirect means. As mentioned earlier, the hip joint plays a crucial role in the body’s kinesiology (the way the parts of the body move). The more “excess” load it bears, the worse off it’ll be. Hip arthritis can also occur as a result of another condition that may affect the composition of the joint cartilage. In this case, the joint cartilage is weakened by disease. This weakened cartilage then sets off the process of arthritis in the other parts of the body.
One of the conditions that can cause cartilage weakening is hemochromatosis. Hemochromatosis is a condition characterized by the excessive consumption of iron. In addition to weakened joint cartilages, this condition can also cause joint pain, fatigue, weakness, and in extreme conditions, organ failure.
Earlier, we discussed how several kinds of arthritis could affect the hip joint. These include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. The difference between these kinds of arthritis is their causes. While some occur as a result of the normal bodily process of ageing, others like rheumatoid arthritis, are due to an autoimmune anomaly.
This is the most common form of arthritis, and it’s characterized by degenerative changes in the bone, as well as inflammation. Osteoarthritis is a normal part of the ageing process. When osteoarthritis affects the hip, it often affects a single joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system begins to attack normal healthy tissue. The cause is currently unknown, and it is known to affect both hip joints at the same time.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a degenerative condition in which the bones of a joint fuse together over time, limiting movement, and causing pain. It is accompanied by inflammation, and mostly affects the bones of the spine. It also affects the Sacroiliac joint (the joint between the lower part of the vertebrae and the hip bone) and as a result, often spreads to the hip joint
This kind of arthritis accompanies psoriasis (the skin condition). It too causes joint swelling, pain, stiffness and it can affect any parts of the body, including the hip.
The most significant symptom of hip arthritis is pain around the affected hip. Depending on the kind of arthritis, there may also be accompanying symptoms. For example, in psoriatic arthritis, the is usually skin rashes and other symptoms of the condition.
In rheumatoid arthritis, both hip joints are affected. However, in ankylosing spondylitis, hip pain is usually accompanied by low back pain and stiffness.
Besides pain, some other symptoms associated with hip arthritis include:
In 2010, it was reported that about 2.2 out of every 10 US citizens had some kind of arthritis. The prevalence of arthritis is much higher in people over 60 than in younger individuals. A study showed that half of the people over the age of 65 have arthritis. This is almost double the figure in younger people, which is about 22 out of 100 individuals 18 years and above
The risk factors of hip arthritis are:
The older an individual gets, the more likely they are to develop arthritis
As discussed earlier, more load on the hip joint leads to greater stress and more degeneration. Obese people are thus at a higher risk of developing arthritis than people with a normal body mass index
There is no single definitive lab test that can be conducted to confirm the presence of hip arthritis. However, history, physical examination, and radiological investigations can help rule out some other conditions and reveal the damage in the joint. A history of pain and discomfort around the hip joint is indicative of hip arthritis.
The suspicion can further be confirmed by X-ray images. These can help show reduced joint space as well as degeneration of the bones that make up the hip joint.
After the diagnosis, the treatment for hip arthritis usually consists of multiple treatments. The goals are to
The treatments of hip arthritis include:
This involves weight loss and modifying daily activity to cause the least amount of stress. Losing weight can substantially reduce the progression of the condition and reduce the amount of pain felt by the individual.
These can help to reduce the pain felt by the individual while reducing the inflammation around the joint.
These can be injected directly into the joint space to reduce the inflammation in the joint.
Physical therapy is very crucial in preserving the range of motion and overall function of the hip joint. Exercises that keep the joint moving and active can go a long way. Additionally, exercises are prescribed for strengthening the muscles around the hip, increasing the support and preventing further complications like a fracture.
If all else fails, surgical intervention can often be considered as a treatment for the condition. Procedures like total hip replacements and osteotomy surgeries are considered.