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Causes of Arthritis of the Hip

There are many conditions that can result in degeneration of the hip joint. Osteoarthritis is perhaps the most common reason that patients need to undergo hip replacement surgery. This condition is commonly referred to as “wear and tear arthritis.” Osteoarthritis can occur with no previous history of injury to the hip joint. The hip simply “wears out.” There may be a genetic tendency in some people that increases their chances of developing osteoarthritis.

Arthritis of the Hip

Avascular necrosis is another cause of hip joint degeneration. In this condition, the femoral head (the ball portion) loses a portion of its blood supply and actually dies. This leads to collapse of the femoral head and degeneration of the joint. Avascular necrosis (AVN) has been linked to alcoholism, fractures and dislocations of the hip, and long-term cortisone treatment for other diseases. Abnormalities of hip joint function resulting from fractures of the hip and some types of hip conditions that appear in childhood can lead to degeneration many years after the injury. The mechanical abnormality leads to excessive wear and tear, much like the out-of-balance tire that wears out too soon on your car.

Diagnosis of Arthritis of the Hip

The diagnosis of a degenerative hip starts with a complete history and physical examination by your doctor. X-rays will be required to determine the extent of the degenerative process and suggest a cause for the degeneration. Other tests may be required if there is reason to believe that other conditions are contributing to the degenerative process. MRI scanning may be necessary to determine whether avascular necrosis is causing your hip condition. Blood tests may be required to rule out systemic arthritis or infection in the hip.

Non-Surgical Options

Hip Arthritis: Assistive Devices to Help Patients with Arthritis Pain

If you suffer from hip arthritis, everyday activities such as getting dressed in the morning, going up stairs and even using the shower can be difficult. There are many assistive devices available that may make your life easier and more productive. Your doctor or occupational therapist can identify specific assistive devices that will help you in your daily life.


If you have stiff joints from hip arthritis, a raised toilet seat may be helpful. You may also wish to install rails by the side of the toilet to make it easier for you to move on and off of it. Showering is easier if you have a shower seat and grab bars. There are companies that focus on creating showers for people with disabilities. You may also find these devices useful: * non-skid safety mats * long-handled brush or sponge * hand-held shower head


Putting on socks and shoes may be very difficult for someone with hip arthritis. You can purchase an extended handle shoehorn and dressing sticks to help you in the mornings. Reachers can help you pick up things that are on the floor. Slip-on shoes may be easier to use than shoes that tie.

Climbing Stairs

If you can, avoid stairs. If you must climb stairs, always use the handrail and take your time. Use your best leg first when going up and lead with the bad leg on the way down. If you are unable to climb stairs in your home, you may want to explore installing a stair lift that will allow you to move easily up and down the stairs.


A cane is the best assistive aid for problems with walking. There are many different types of canes. A popular choice for many people is a quad cane that has four tips at the end to give stability. If you have hip arthritis, use the cane in the opposite hand. Walkers or crutches may also help people who are unable to use a cane. You can buy most of these assistive devices in department stores, medical supply stores, through specialized mail-order catalogs, or through medical assistance web sites.

Treating Arthritis of the Hip

Not all hip conditions require a hip replacement as the initial treatment. Your doctor may suggest several alternative treatments to put off the decision for replacing the hip as long as possible. Using a cane may help alleviate some of your pain and allow you to walk more comfortably. Anti-inflammatory medications may reduce the inflammation from the arthritis and reduce your pain. The pain may also respond to acetaminophen (Tylenol® Arthritis Extended Relief).


Rheumatoid Arthritis: Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hip

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the hip typically include arthritis pain and loss of motion. Rheumatoid arthritis is a symmetrical disease, meaning that both sides of the body are affected similarly. For example, you will most likely feel arthritis pain in both of your hips. In addition, you may notice your hip fixed in a slightly bent position so when you are walking or standing, your pelvis has to tilt forward.

Arthritis of the Hip

Other common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in the hip include:

  • Arthritis pain felt down the leg, at the knee or in the groin area
  • Loss of motion
  • Lower back pain

If you have rheumatoid arthritis in the hip, you will most likely have one or more of the other prevalent symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis such as:

  • Swelling and pain in one or more joints, lasting six weeks or more
  • Fatigue and/or weakness
  • Stiffness following periods of immobility when gradually improves with movement
  • General sickness, mild fevers, anemia and weight loss
  • Fluid accumulation, especially around the ankles

Only a physician can make a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. If you think you have any of these symptoms, please consult with your doctor.

Symptoms of Arthritis of the Hip

The symptoms of a degenerative hip joint usually begin as pain while bearing weight on the affected hip. You may limp, which is the body’s way of reducing the forces that the hip has to deal with. The degeneration will lead to a reduction in the range of motion of the affected hip. Bony spurs will usually develop, which can limit how far the hip can move. Finally, as the condition becomes worse, the pain may be present all the time and may even keep you awake at night.

  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • American Association for Hand Surgery
  • American Academy Of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • The American Board of Pediatrics
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