Identify & Address Symptoms of Hip Arthritis With These 3 Ti...

Identify & Address Symptoms of Hip Arthritis With These 3 Tips

Mitchell K. Freedman, D.O. January 16th, 2015

In order to identify the symptoms of hip arthritis, you must first understand what arthritis is and how it impacts the body. The condition is characterized by joint inflammation, which causes swelling, stiffness and the most noticeable symptom: pain. The root cause of arthritis is often the gradual degeneration of protective cartilage over time. 

Although this kind of “wear and tear” arthritis is very common in patients over 50 years of age, it can occur in younger patients as well. There are also other forms of arthritis that are caused by trauma or by the body’s own immune response. But here at Rothman Institute, many of our hip patients are suffering from osteoarthritis due to the breakdown of cartilage.

When cartilage wears away over the years, the space and cushion between the bones of a joint are compromised. An x-ray of an arthritic hip may show bone on bone contact or even the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis only gets worse with time and the bad news is that there is no cure for it. However, there are several options for managing symptoms and there is also the option of having the entire joint replaced.
For purposes of this article, we’d like to help you learn how to identify and address hip arthritis through non operative measures. Should not of the more conservative treatment options prove to relieve your pain, we recommend talking with your physician about the possibility of total hip replacement surgery.
Specific Symptoms of Hip Arthritis
Most patients with arthritic  hips report the following symptoms:
  • Pain
  • Swelling & Stiffness 
  • Instability 
  • Deformity
If you believe that you may have arthritis in your hip, the best step to take is to set up an appointment with a qualified orthopedic specialist, who can offer a diagnosis based on a physical exam and x-rays. However, in the mean time, check out the questions below to assess your condition and the likelihood that the pain you’re experiencing is due to arthritis.
Self Assessment:
  • Is there a history of osteoarthritis in your family?
  • Have you sustained any previous injuries to the hip joint?
  • Is your pain worse when you are climbing stairs or getting in and out of a car?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, your pain may very well be the result of degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis. It’s a condition that affects nearly 30 million Americans and the hip is one of the most common joints to experience this wear and tear over the years.
When the symptoms of hip arthritis become severe, the condition can begin to significantly interfere with a patient’s ability to carry on a normal, active lifestyle. For some, the pain is so intense that it keeps them up at night.
3 Non Operative Ways to Address the Symptoms of Hip Arthritis
It’s important to identify arthritis as early as possible because the more conservative treatment options are effective in the early stages. For those with mild to moderate pain, one or more of the following options may provide the needed pain relief.
1. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and activity modification can help to reduce any unnecessary stress on the hip, which is a weight bearing joint. Ask your physician what your ideal, healthy weight should be and then create a plan to achieve that goal within a reasonable and healthy time frame. 
In the mean time, consider the benefits of simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing high impact activities at work or taking a break from playing recreational sports. Incorporating more rest into your daily life can make a big difference in reducing inflammation in your joints and providing pain relief.
2. Before ever prescribing pain medication, many physicians will first recommend an over the counter anti-inflammatory to address the symptoms of hip arthritis. In some cases, though, that will not be enough to manage the pain. For for more constant or more severe pain, prescription pain relievers or injected cortisone shots may be recommended.
3. Regular stretching and appropriate exercises can also yield positive results for patients in the early stages of osteoarthritis of the hip. Talk to your physician about how to add stretching into your daily routine to help keep your hips loose and flexible. As for exercising, try bicycling or swimming for low-impact, joint-friendly workouts!

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