The hip joint is one of the most important in the body, we rely on our hip joints for virtually every activity in life. When the hip stops working effectively our quality of life becomes severely affected. Wear and tear of the joint (osteoarthritis) affects just over 10% of the population, and 3% severely. It can occur in any joint but weight-bearing joints such as your hip are more commonly affected.
Osteoarthritis causes a combination of pain and stiffness of the joint. Everyday tasks such as bending, putting on your shoes and even walking gradually becomes more difficult. As it worsens it can become more difficult to sleep. Although there is no cure for wear and tear arthritis, there are many options to help you improve your symptoms. The earlier you commence treatment the more likely you can maintain your quality of life.
At Schoen Clinic our specialists will explore every option to improve your symptoms and quality of life, aiming to delay the need for a joint replacement, where possible. If conservative treatments fail to help then a hip replacement may become necessary. Our experts use the latest surgical and anaesthetic techniques to ensure a successful outcome from your surgery.
The hip joint
The femur and pelvis are linked together at the hip joint. There is a protective layer of cartilage tissue which acts as a buffer or cushion. This can wear down over years and specialists then refer to this as hip osteoarthritis or hip arthritis.
Symptoms of hip arthritis
Pain in the hips and reduced mobility are clear signs of hip osteoarthritis. The hip joint is essentially a ball in a socket. Arthritis of the hip is a progressive process where the normally smooth surface of the joint (articular cartilage) becomes worn down so that the underlying bone becomes exposed. Initially the symptoms vary in their severity, however as the damage to the joint progresses, the symptoms become more persistent and intrusive.
Remember that symptoms may occur for reasons other than arthritis.
- Increasing stiffness of the hip
- Increasing pain on weightbearing
Causes: how hip osteoarthritis occurs
The hip is a common site of pain and the pain itself often originates directly from the joint surfaces – usually due to osteoarthritis. However, sometimes hip pain can arise from pain in the tissues around the hip, or from wear and tear of the back. A precise diagnosis of the origin of your hip problem will help lead to rapid treatment and recovery.
The most common cause of arthritis is simple wear and tear of the joint. However, other causes include:
- Inflammatory conditions of the joint
- Previous injury
- Abnormalities of the joint you may have been born with
Osteoarthritis of the hip: diagnosis is the first step
At Schoen Clinic we first take a history from you and then assess the mobility of your hip by examination. Appropriate investigations using our imaging equipment can be performed. X-rays, CT or MRI may be necessary.
Imaging – a crucial tool for an accurate diagnosis
At Schoen Clinic we have the latest imaging equipment including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT), as well as ultrasound scanning and digital X-ray.
X-ray and CT imaging
In arthritis of the hip, X-ray imaging will usually confirm the diagnosis. On these X-ray images, our experts can see if the bone of the joint has changed in shape or the joint space has narrowed. The more cartilage that’s missing in the hip joint, the narrower the joint space. The CT scan may help to show the bones in three dimensions.
If necessary, further scans may be requested to allow a thorough assessment of your hip. An MRI scan can identify soft tissue problems such as the bursitis which cannot be seen on an X-ray.
Blood tests or take a fluids sample from the hip joint
If we suspect inflammatory joint disease, these additional examinations may be required for a more accurate diagnosis.