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Arthritis of the hip: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About arthritis of the hip

Arthritis of the hip is referred to inflammation of hip joint followed by limitation of movement. A joint consists of ends of bones, enclosing capsule and supporting cartilages, all of which may get involved in arthritis. The hip joint is a load bearing, ball and socket type of joint with wide range of movement. Arthritis of the hip may be a result of osteoarthritis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis of the hip: Incidence, age and sex

Individuals of any age group may be affected by arthritis. For example, osteoarthritis of the hip is more common in the fifth decade and thereafter. Likewise, rheumatoid arthritis of the hip is more commonly seen in young and middle aged women.

Signs and symptoms of arthritis of the hip: Diagnosis

Arthritis is a long standing disease, with periods of remission and relapse. Individuals suffering from arthritis of the hip may complain of pain in groin which may be augmented on walking. Stiffness of the hip joint may be felt on prolonged rest especially when one wakes up in the morning. Inability to move the thighs in full range of movement is noted. Some individuals may find it difficult to climb up and down the stairs. Limping gait may also be observed in some individuals. Osteoarthritis of the hip is characterised by joint pain aggravated with movement and emergence of joint stiffness on prolonged rest. Rheumatoid arthritis of the hip is characterised by joint pain, swelling, and morning stiffness. Non specific features like loss of weight, fatigue and muscle aches may also be seen.

Causes and prevention of arthritis of the hip

Several causes may lead to arthritis of hip, of which degeneration of joints as a part of aging is the commonest factor leading to osteoarthritis. In fact osteoarthritis of the hip is more common than rheumatoid arthritis of the hip. Other factors like injury or obesity may also trigger this. Balanced diet, regular physical exercise and weight management plays a vital role in preventing arthritis of hip.

Arthritis of the hip: Complications

Sometimes joint pain remains unresolved in spite of analgesic medications. This long standing pain coupled with limited range of movement may hamper one’s social and personal life and activities. Moreover any delay in treatment may result in disability and loss of function of the affected joint. The complications of rheumatoid arthritis may be severe resulting in heart failure, lung disease and spinal problems. Deformity of the affected joint may also occur if affected joint is left untreated for a long time.

Arthritis of the hip: Treatment

The management of arthritis of the hip depends upon the type of arthritis an individual is afflicted with. Medications like NSAIDs which help in reducing pain, swelling and inflammation of the joint are the mainstay of treatment in osteoarthritis. Adequate support to joint by using walking aids or muscle strengthening exercises may further help by providing good joint support. Rest to the joint during periods of inflammation and adequate weight management may also be beneficial. In addition to this, rheumatoid arthritis may also need some potent medications like azathioprine, penicillamine or methotrexate for adequate benefit. Some of these medications may suppress immune system leading to increased chances of infections. In rare instances, total hip replacement surgery may be needed when extreme limitation of movement occurs due to resistant pain and no benefit occurs with medical and supportive therapy.