Hip arthritis is a debilitating condition that usually arises as a result of wear and tear over one’s lifetime. This typical arthritis is known as osteoarthritis. It can be related to injuries many years prior, even injuries that seemed relatively innocuous at the time. Certainly, more traumatic hip injuries or childhood hip deformity can predispose people to development of hip arthritis. There are other less common forms of arthritis. Inflammatory causes such as Rheumatoid disease, Lupus and others can lead to more aggressive arthritis at younger ages than typically seen with osteoarthritis.
In general, hip arthritis usually presents with pain in the groin or front of the hip and occasionally radiates down the thigh. In some instances, pain on the outside of the hip can be an early sign of arthritis, but more commonly, it is seen in hip bursitis or tendonitis. While the development of osteoarthritis is gradual, it is not uncommon to have a relatively rapid onset of symptoms, as the hip often has a threshold of degenerative disease past which pain and stiffness are more pronounced. Pain increasing with activity level and body weight are commonplace, while night pain can be a less common presenting symptom. As the condition advances, a limp often develops. Common symptoms in later stages of arthritis include loss of mobility, loss of stretch, and loss of hip rotation.
Your description of symptoms, in conjunction with a physical exam evaluating gait and motion, are often indicative of hip arthritis. However, an xray is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis. MRI is usually not necessary except in cases of less common forms of arthritis.
Depending on the severity of the arthritis and how much it interferes with your function, a variety of treatments are used for symptom management. Anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen can be used as well as Tylenol. In some situations, physical therapy can be beneficial and, when appropriate, weight loss can diminish symptoms by reducing strain on the joint. Injections of cortisone into the hip joint can provide significant temporary relief, but are not recommended to be done more than several times. Injections of platelet-rich plasma and/or stem cell injections may be considered in appropriate patients. While these treatments hold promise, currently there is no cure for advanced arthritis.
Ultimately, in advanced arthritis where all other treatments have been ineffective, a hip replacement may be recommended. While this is a significant operation, it is also a very straightforward and successful operation for surgeons trained in Adult Reconstruction. The ball and socket are replaced with new metal and polyethylene components while the muscles around the joint are preserved.
Many patients go home the next day and some are now even being done as an outpatient or same-day surgery. You will walk the afternoon after your surgery and typically, most of your arthritic pain resolves during the first several weeks of recovery. Golf, tennis and low-impact exercise are all permitted after hip replacement.