Hip Arthritis

by Carol Gomes


Hips, like the other weight bearing joints of the body, are very susceptible to arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of hip arthritis. It is also the most common form of arthritis and affects ten million people in the United States alone. Hip arthritis usually affects people after fifty. Obesity increases the chances of contracting this disease because extra weight is placed on the hip. It may also be genetically inherited. Other conditions such as trauma to the hip or fractures around the joint greatly increase the chances of hip arthritis.

Arthritis of the hip is caused when the articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones of the hip joint wears thin. When this happens, the hip joint becomes painful and inflamed. Bone spurs might build up at the edges of the joint leading to sharp pain. As the cartilage progressively thins down, movement becomes stiffer and more painful. You might avoid putting too much weight on the affected side, but this causes the muscles of that side to become weaker and results in a limp. If left unchecked, hip arthritis may lead to eventual total loss of mobility and/or complete destruction of the joint necessitating surgery.

Symptoms

The first signs of hip arthritis are stiffness and discomfort in the groins, buttocks and thighs. Everyday activities such as walking become painful. Eventually you might start walking with a noticeable limp. These symptoms may come and go. However, if left untreated, they will worsen over the years.

If you suspect that you have any of these symptoms it is a good idea to consult your physician. He or she will carry out a thorough physical examination and utilize x-rays to make a diagnosis. Treatment will be prescribed based on the severity of the disease.

Treatment

The ideal treatment for hip arthritis is carried out on many fronts involving weight loss programs, physical therapy, medication, and if necessary, surgical procedures. Weight loss is an extremely important part of this treatment because the hip is a weight bearing joint. Simply put, the more you weigh, the greater the strain on the hip. Exercise is also an important part of the treatment process as it strengthens the muscle and allows the hip joint to retain its full range of motion. Swimming or gentle aquatic exercises are the best forms of therapeutic exercise. The use of a walking stick can also aid patients while undergoing therapy for hip arthritis.

Medication for hip arthritis consists of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and other non-prescription medication to ease the pain and inflammation. Nutritional supplements containing Glucosamine are also being widely used.

In cases where the hip joint has been badly deformed due to the arthritis, you should seek surgical options. Total hip replacement surgery is becoming increasingly popular. In this process the damaged cartilage is removed and replaced with a metal and plastic implant.


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