24 Jan Wear and Tear – How Osteoarthritis Affects the Hip Joints
Hip joints stiff and creaking? Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that can affect anyone, but it is certainly most common in those who are over the age of 45 years, often affecting those joints which are impacted by wear and tear. Millions of people are affected by this condition across the globe and as a ball and socket joint, the hips usually have an excellent range of movement, but osteoarthritis is painful and limiting. It is a serious health condition as osteoarthritis breaks down the rubbery cartilage tissue (made from mainly proteins and water) which covers the ends of the bones. Once cartilage is damaged, the body is unable to make more. The joint itself is surrounded by a fibrous sleeve called the capsule and the capsule lining is called the synovium and it is this that produces the synovial fluid which lubricates and nourishes the actual joint.
The hips are weight-bearing joints. Degeneration of the joint may cause the person to limp, with pain radiating down the body, often, losing weight may help to take some stress away from the joint but this will not be the cause of the pain. Osteoarthritis in the hip joint is about one third as common as arthritis in the knees. It can be aggravated by over-use even in the home, walking upstairs as a prime example. Stiffness and accompanying pain are the first symptoms but, during advanced stages, deformities to the joint can even result in the legs becoming different lengths.
Pain in the hip joint does not always mean osteoarthritis, it could be inflamed or a strained tendon perhaps, through overdoing exercise. In this case, pain usually dissipates in a day or two. Pain can occur in the groin, in the front of the thigh muscle and even in the knee joint. Sometimes, there is a pain in the buttocks too. If the pain worsens, or, where there has been trauma to the hip by way of a fall, then, medical advice should be sought.
Other hip joint conditions include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Paget’s disease
- Hip fractures
There are many reasons as to why the pain could occur. The joints may not have formed correctly when younger, there could be genetic issues in the cartilage. Pain can manifest in different locations and be either sharp or a dull ache.
- Stiffness when first out of bed
- Stiffness when sitting for long periods of time
- Swelling, tenderness or pain in the hip joint
- Grating feeling or sound in the hip
- Restricted movement
Correct diagnosis is important. An x-ray is usually taken which may show the narrowing of the joint. A physical examination is likely. In the early stages, painkillers may help – paracetamol or, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs including ibuprofen. Physical therapy can be extremely useful in keeping mobility in the hip, exercises can stretch and strengthen as well as stabilizing. A CT scan or MRI scan may be requested for more in-depth analysis. Steroid injections may help if the hip joint is caused by inflammation and these are often given with anesthetic. Hip replacement surgery was often the outcome and when the hip bone was fractured.
Stem cell treatments can be highly useful for arthritic hip joints and as they are primitive cells already present in the body, they can help to form the necessary cells when added into the painful and damaged area. Once extracted from fat deposits or from bone marrow, they are less likely to be rejected and can even increase regeneration of the joint. Importantly, stem cell treatments are without known side-effects and can also prevent further damage of the hip joint. When hip joints are painful and restricting movement, it is best to seek professional advice.