Inflammatory Arthritis of the Hip

Arthritis is a common ailment that affects millions of people around the world. Inflammatory arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints of the body and can limit movement. Most people who experience arthritis are about 65 or older, but it can happen at any age. Arthritis of the hip can be debilitating over time or if left untreated.

What Causes Inflammatory Arthritis of the Hip?

There are many different forms of arthritis, but inflammatory arthritis occurs when the body begins to attack and eat away the healthy tissue surrounding the joints. There is no underlying cause for arthritis, but there is evidence that genetics play a role in its development. The actual cause of arthritis is an overactive immune system that begins to attack healthy tissues. This inflammation can cause damage that weakens the body and is generally quite painful.

Symptoms of Arthritis  

Arthritis begins with pain and swelling in the affected joint. The area of swelling also tends to feel warm and tender. In the hip specifically, many patients experience a decreased range of motion or difficulty walking. A dull, aching pain is generally present, but this can be felt in not only the hip but the groin, buttocks, thighs, and even lower back. This pain tends to be worse after strenuous activity or after long periods of standing or sitting. The pain actually tends to lessen after mild activity. Stiffness in the hip is also common, especially in the mornings. Unfortunately, pain is common in most hip problems, so it can be difficult at times to narrow down if the pain is caused by inflammatory arthritis or not. 

Inflammatory Hip Arthritis Diagnosis 

When a patient begins to experience the symptoms of arthritis, there are a few ways a doctor can diagnose it as inflammatory arthritis specifically. Most doctors will conduct a physical examination first to see the range of motion of the affected hip and other symptoms that may not be obvious to the patient. They will then usually order an x-ray of the hip to determine if it is a fracture or problem with the pelvis or femur bones. An x-ray can also show if the joint is narrowing due to the connective tissue disintegrating. If this is not conclusive, they may order a CT scan or an MRI. These scans can help the doctor see if the connective tissues have tears or have been damaged in any other way. This is usually when the patient is officially diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. 

Treatments for Hip Arthritis 

Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many different methods available for treatment. These fall into two categories: Nonsurgical or surgical. 

Nonsurgical Treatments 

The less invasive forms of treatment generally start with the use of NSAIDs, or over the counter pain medications. These are mild but effective medicines that reduce inflammation and can help the patient function normally while preventing further damage. In more advanced cases, these may not be enough, so doctors may prescribe steroids that will help with inflammation as well. These steroids could be prescribed as daily pills or as steroid injection shots. Steroid shots are steroids injected directly into the affected joint. Some doctors will also recommend physical therapy to help strengthen the surrounding muscles and regain some movement. 

Surgical Treatment 

Surgery is always the last option for treatment in almost every situation. This is also the option that can mean longer recovery time, but more effective and long term treatment of the pain. One surgery that is used as a treatment for severe arthritis is total hip replacement. Another option is synovectomy, which removes some tissue that constricts the joint. These treatments are available depending on the patients age, the condition of the joint, and the progression of the arthritis. 

Patient Information 

If someone is experiencing these kinds of symptoms, they should visit with their doctor as quickly as possible. Inflammatory arthritis of the hip is a progressive condition that worsens over time. A visit in a timely manner may affect the outcome of the patient’s symptoms and help with everyday function and health.