One of the most common causes of pain in the hip is arthritis. The term arthritis simply denotes inflammation of the joint. It is a common condition that is progressive, meaning that it starts off slow (and sometimes that not that noticeable) then gets much worse over time. Hip arthritis affects the ball and socket joint located at the pivot of the pelvis and lower extremity. When this disorder strikes, the normal joint will be inflamed and painful. If you are interested in learning more about hip arthritis and some things you can do to get some relief from the pain, keep reading.
About on Hip Arthritis
There are several types of arthritis that can affect the hip joint. The five main types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (being the most common), Psoriatic Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. Unfortunately, for all the types of arthritis, there is no cure at the moment, since a permanent cure would involve regenerating degraded or missing cartilage. However, until that happens, there are several things you can do to make your life better (i.e.: help you manage your hip pain.). We’ll get to that further down below.
Since Osteoarthritis is the most common, we’ll focus on that one for today. The word itself means arthritis of the bone. It is mostly described as the outcome of wear and tear on the joints and that is why older people are more affected than younger people are. As you can see from above, the hip joint has a ball-shaped ending where the thighbone ends, which fits into the hip socket. Smooth cartilage forms the inner lining of the ball-and-socket joint to help the joint move smoothly. When the smooth cartilage eventually wears away, the resulting rough surfaces of the ball-and-socket joint rub against each other; this movement causes extreme pain. If you don’t treat it, the damage and pain will get worse.
So what causes osteoarthritis of the hip? Here are a few commons one: obesity, previous traumatic damage or injury to the hip, advancing age, structural problems with the hip joint (e.g. femoroacetabular impingement) and hip dysplasia. Hip arthritis commonly affects people from 50 years and older. There is also a genetic likelihood to this disorder, which means hip arthritis most probably runs in the family.
How to Tell If You Have Hip Arthritis?
It can be tricky to diagnose on your own, because often, people with hip arthritis can feel great for a few months, then have a bad week or two where the pain just seems to flare up. That’s why it is important to keep a log of your pain levels. Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp shooting pain, keep track of it in a journal. It will help you in the long run. In the meantime, here are some common symptoms to look out for:
- Walking with a limp
- Difficulty walking
- Pain with activities
- Stiffness of the hip
- Pain in the outer thigh, groin, buttocks or knee
- Limited range of motions
- Pain that is especially prevalent in the morning and reduces with activity
In some patients with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis, weakness and fatigue may also occur. Hip arthritis often happens in flashes with remission, but quite a number of people have a comparably stable levels of pain without the up and down flashed of pain.
6 Ways to Treat Hip Arthritis
- Lifestyle updates – Your lifestyle can be a major contributing factor to your hip arthritis. For example, do you push your body on a constant basis (e.g. lots of physical activities or a demanding physical job?), or maybe you are overweight? You may be putting a tremendous amount of stress on your hip joints, which will only aggravate the situation. It might be time for some lifestyle changes. For example, if you just focus on one sport, try cross-training by performing another sport so that your body doesn’t focus on the same movement all the time. Or, if you are overweight, try focusing your time/effort on losing weight, which will help reduce the pressure on your hip joints. Don’t forget to rest more.
- Hot and cold therapy – When the pain becomes too much, you can use hot and cold compresses to get some relief. Generally, you apply cold to your hips when you feel that they are swollen or inflamed and you apply heat when you feel that your hips are stiff. However, for many people, alternating between the two does the most good. Experiment a bit yourself to see what works. For example, you could start with 10 minutes of cold therapy, 5 minutes of rest, then 10 minutes of heat therapy, then continue alternating. If that doesn’t work, try changing the timings.
- Exercise regularly – Try to stay fit as much as possible and always keep moving (as long as the pain doesn’t become excruciating). When you stay active, your joints be stay lubricated longer which will allow them to move more easily. Sometimes, all you need is a low impact exercise program, coupled with a weight loss program, to make a huge difference.
- Natural treatments & supplements – Most people have tried using natural therapies as an alternative to treating hip arthritis. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for another. Which is why you should experiment (with your doctor’s ok of course) to see what works for you. Natural treatment options can include massage, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and supplements like glucosamine, capsaicin, ginger, and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Just remember that natural supplements can sometimes interact with medication, so you should always consult your doctor before taking anything new.
- Mobility aids – There are a ton of devices available on the market these days that can help you take some of the pressure off of your hips. For example, a walker or a cane can come in handy when the pain is too much to handle. In addition, they can prevent you from falling by reducing risks to your stability and balance. If you are going to use a cane, make sure the cane is not too short or tall. You want to make sure that you are not leaning or slumping when using it. As a rule of thumb, make sure the height is up to the top of your wrist. It is also recommended that you use the cane on your ‘strong’ side (e.g.: if your affected hip is the right one, hold the cane with your left hand. Sometimes your insurance company will help you offset some of the costs for these mobility aids, so always check with them before buying one. Your doctor should also be able to write you a prescription for these aids, which will help you to get a re-imbursement from your insurance company.
- Injections – There are several injections available nowadays that can also help to reduce your hip pain. For instance, steroid injections, hyaluronic acid, and platelet-rich plasma cells. Steroid injections, like corticosteroid injections, reduce swelling and inflammation around the hip region but the issue is that the pain relief is not always long-lasting. Another drawback is the injection can thin the surrounding bones. Hyaluronic acid offers lubrication to your joints and reduces stiffness. The FDA has not approved its use for hip arthritis however. Platelet-rich plasma therapy uses samples of your own blood to form a concentration of blood platelets. Platelets will then be injected into damaged regions of the cartilage to reduce pain and accelerate healing. If this is something that you would like to entertain, talk to your doctor about it.
We hope that this article gives you an idea on what you can do about your hip arthritis. If there is one thing we’d like you to take away is that you should never ignore your pain. You are only doing more harm than good if you do that. Keep track of your pain and treat it as soon as possible. If you have any experience with hip pain from arthritis, we’d love to hear from you. What are you doing about it? What works? What doesn’t work? Please leave a comment below! Thanks and until next time.
Disclaimer – We are not doctors here at CAHS. This information was posted for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor before starting any form of treatment.