Hip Osteoarthritis – About Hip Osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis occurs when the articular cartilage thins out or is damaged due to wear and tear. Your articular cartilage is a type of tissue that covers ends of bones in a joint that helps you move your joint easily. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis known today. Hip osteoarthritis is also called hip OA.

Your Hip Joint

Your hip joint is composed of a ball-like upper end of your thigh bone (femur) called the femoral head or the head of the femur and the acetabulum of your hip. The acetabulum is a depression or socket that connects with your femoral to form your hip joint. Both the head of the femur and the acetabulum are covered with a thin layer of articular cartilage.


Damage to the articular cartilage due to wear and tear often causes the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Although once thought as a disease affecting only the older population, it is now known that hip osteoarthritis can also affect younger people. Hip osteoarthritis in younger people may result from injury to the joint; malformations in the joint; or due to a genetic defect in the joint cartilage. Having a family history for the condition or being overweight may put you at risk for having hip osteoarthritis.


The symptoms that you experience depend on the severity of damage to your hip joint. Symptoms usually start out slowly and worsen as more of the cartilages are damaged. At first, you may experience discomfort in your hip or groin area, especially during physical work or exercise and is relieved with rest. Joint pain may worsen as your joint further degenerates. You may experience hip joint stiffness and inflammation may occur.

Once your cartilages are completely gone, your bones in your joint will rub against each other causing more significant pain. Moving your hip becomes difficult, which can affect your daily activities.


There are several treatment options available for hip osteoarthritis. Often, conservative treatments are employed first, such as
  • Modified rest
  • Physiotherapy
  • Using an assistive device, such as a cane, walker, or crutches
  • Pain medication
  • Modification of activities
  • Decrease weight if you are obese or overweight
  • Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest

Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to replace your damaged joint with a new artificial hip joint. The procedure is called hip replacement. This surgical procedure may be recommended by your doctor if you have a severely damaged joint or conservative treatments do not improve your symptoms.

Handout on Health: Osteoarthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Available at http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Osteoarthritis/

Osteoarthritis of the Hip. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Available at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00213


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