When Hip Pain May Mean Arthritis
Learn about the various causes of hip pain, including different kinds of arthritis.
Many forms of arthritis and related conditions can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the hips. Hip pain can occur on the outside or inside of the hip, the upper thigh or outer buttock. Here are some diseases that can affect the hips.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, OA is a chronic condition caused by the breakdown of the cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones where they meet to form joints. This breakdown causes the bones to rub together, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement and the formation of bony overgrowths (spurs). Pain from hip OA is often felt in the groin area and front of the thigh. Stiffness may be worst after periods of inactivity, and decreased range of motion may affect your ability to walk.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the immune system doesn’t work properly and attacks the joints (and possibly other parts of the body). Hip involvement in RA is often signaled by pain, stiffness or swelling in the hips, thighs or groin area. RA usually affects the same joint on both sides of the body (both hips).
Juvenile arthritis is the term used to describe joint and rheumatic diseases that affect children and teens 16 years and younger. There are several types of juvenile arthritis that cause hip joint pain and swelling.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily causing inflammation of the spine (running from the neck to the lower back). It can also lead to chronic pain and stiffening that may spread to the hip.
Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a form of arthritis that usually happens along with the skin disease psoriasis. Arthritis pain and inflammation can affect large and small joints, including the hip. Hip involvement in PsA is often signaled by pain in the groin, outer thigh or buttocks.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction and cushion the areas between bones, tendons and muscles. They are found in hips and other parts of the body. When these soft tissues become inflamed, they cause pain in the affected area. The condition is called bursitis. Injury or overuse of bursae are common causes of bursitis.
Tendons are fibrous tissues that join muscle to bone and some of them surround the hip joint. When they become inflamed, irritated or swollen, it can cause pain. The condition is called tendinitis. Injury or overuse of tendons are common causes of tendinitis.
Also called septic arthritis, this condition is caused by an infection from bacteria, virus or fungus. The infection travels through the bloodstream and can affect many joints, including the hip. Symptoms usually come on rapidly and involve intense swelling, pain and fever. Infectious arthritis rarely affects more than one joint.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic form of arthritis that often occurs following an infection of the genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system. Large joints are often affected, especially the shoulders, hips and knees.
Myositis belongs to a group of disorders that cause inflammation and muscle weakness. Weakness and pain in the muscles of the hips and shoulders is often a first sign of myositis. The weakness may make it difficult to lift heavy objects or even lift your arm to comb your hair or to put on a coat.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder that causes pain and stiffness especially in shoulders and hips. It usually develops gradually but may come on suddenly. It is rare in people under the age of 50. Symptoms tend to affect both sides of the body and are worse in the morning.
Getting a Proper Diagnosis
Other common sources of hip pain include stress fractures, muscle strains and hip dislocations.
Arthritis is difficult to self-diagnose. Talk with your primary care doctor as soon as possible about your symptoms. You may be referred to a rheumatologist or orthopedist to get an accurate diagnosis so you can get the medical care you need. Left undiagnosed and untreated, your condition may worsen and cause disability.
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