Degenerative Joint Disease of the Hip (Osteoarthritis of the Hip)

The hip is the largest joint in the body and is one of the most critical for everyday function. When osteoarthritis of the hip occurs, it begins slowly and can gradually become very debilitating. Most patients who experience degenerative joint disease are over the age of 60, but some people can start showing symptoms as young as 20 or 30 years old. Degenerative joint disease is the most common cause of physical disability in patients over the age of 65, so most people do experience some form of it. 

What Causes Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

Although there are no direct causes of degenerative joint disease of the hip, there are some common factors that may lead to its development. The main factor that affects this is obesity, as this places more stress on the joint over time. Also, fats do produce proteins that break down joint tissue. Another factor is joint injury. Joint injury can occur for many reasons, but many elderly people fall and hurt themselves as their balance can be affected as they age. These kinds of injuries can lead to joint disease. In younger patients, osteoarthritis can be caused by genetics or injuries as well. 

Symptoms of Joint Disease

There are multiple symptoms of hip osteoarthritis, and many of them begin with relatively minor pain and discomfort. Many people notice stiffness in their hip joint when they get up in the morning or a loss of flexibility in their hip. Most of the time this is noticeable upon waking up in the morning. Another early symptom is swelling of the hip joint and pain, especially after extensive use or exercise. Some people experience pain in the hip in different ways. This could mean possible pain in the side of the leg, groin area, buttocks, inner thigh, or even in the knees. Later symptoms include difficulty walking, the feeling of bone rubbing on bone, and serious pain and stiffness that does not go away. 

How is Hip Osteoarthritis Diagnosed? 

Doctors can use several different tests to diagnose joint disease. Usually the first test performed is an x-ray. X-rays are taken of the hip and the surrounding bones and then carefully examined. Bone spurs are a common indicator of arthritis, and the narrowing of the joint itself can usually be seen in the x-ray as well. If this is not conclusive, most doctors will send the patient to get an MRI of the hip area. This test is generally to find out the extent of the degeneration and to help the doctor get the best idea of the condition of the patient. Some doctors will also order blood work to rule out other diagnoses, and in some cases they may draw fluid from the hip joint to examine it. Once a diagnosis has been made, a treatment plan can begin. 

Treatment of Degenerative Joint Disease 

There are some non-invasive treatments available for hip osteoarthritis which include pain medications, using a cane, exercise, and weight loss. These options are offered for most patients who are younger with less severe cases. For more advanced symptoms, surgery may be the best option to relieve pain and regain mobility. Some surgeries that are available are hip replacement, hip resurfacing, and bone realignment. Physical therapy is also an option for all ranges of pain and symptoms. Patients can also receive shots of cortisone, steroids, or other pain relieving drugs. 

Professional Treatment and Care 

It is important that patients with symptoms of hip osteoarthritis contact a doctor as soon as possible. Many painful symptoms can be treated with the right care. Early care can prevent more serious symptoms appearing and help the patient regain mobility and health. There is no cure for joint disease, but there are many things that can be done to help the patient live a happy and healthy life with minimal pain. 

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