Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Hip OA can limit your daily life, but treatment can ease your pain.
By Jennifer Cuthbertson
The hip is the second largest weight-bearing joint – second only to the knee. It is a ball-and-socket joint. The socket is formed by part of the pelvic bone (acetabulum) and the ball is the upper end of the thigh bone (femur).
Smooth, slippery cartilage covers the surfaces of the ball and socket. It pads and protects the bones, allowing them to move easily.
With OA, the cartilage wears way over time. The bone ends get rough and the space in the joint gets small. The bones rub against each other and bone spurs grow, causing pain.
Causes of Hip OA
There is no single cause of osteoarthritis. Certain factors make you more likely to have OA.
- Family history.
- Injury to the hip, even an old one.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Improper growth of the hip joint, known as hip dysplasia.
Symptoms of Hip OA
Symptoms usually develop slowly and worsen over time. You may feel worse in the morning or after sitting or resting for a while.
- Pain in the groin is the most common symptom. You may also feel pain in the thigh, buttocks or down your leg to the knee.
- Crepitus is the grinding noise and “locking” or “sticking” that you feel when you move your hip.
- Stiffness in the hip joint makes it difficult to walk or bend.
- Decreased range of motion in the hip may affect your ability to walk and cause you to limp.
Diagnosing Hip OA
To make a diagnosis your doctor will ask you questions and examine your body. They will check for:
- How far your hip will move in different directions.
- Signs of injury.
- Grinding (crepitus) when you walk.
- Problems with the way you walk.
- Pain when pressure is applied to the hip.
Your doctor will likely order X-rays. They can show a thinning of the joint space, any changes in the bone and bone spurs (bony points on the edges of the joint). Sometimes, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) might be used to get a picture of the hip that includes both bone and soft tissue.