Skip to content
Oncology - Orthopaedics SA

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Osteoarthritis is a condition that affects joints including bone, cartilage, ligaments and muscles. Osteoarthritis can include inflammation of the tissue around the hip joint, damage to joint surface cartilage, bony spurs growing around the edge of the hip joint and/or deterioration of the ligaments and tendons that hold the joint together.

Osteoarthritis tends to be more common in people aged over 40 years or those who have had joint injuries. The condition may also be referred to as Osteoarthrosis.

The most common symptoms are hip pain and stiffness of the hip that usually gets worse with activity.  You may feel stiffness as you are getting out of bed, or if you have been sitting for a long time.  These symptoms may affect your ability to do normal daily activities.  Other symptoms include clicking noises, grating or crunching sensations of bone rubbing against bone, pain when walking or a loss of movement in the hip joint.  Symptoms can vary for each person.

While there are various stages of Osteoarthritis, it is generally a gradual condition.  Pain may initially come and go, but the hip will be inflamed by activity.  Hip pain can become more persistent as the condition progresses.  Eventually, at the end stage of arthritis, the articular cartilage wears away completely and bone on bone contact occurs.

Generally osteoarthritis can be somewhat attributed to wear and tear, but often a direct cause cannot be identified.  Some factors that may put you at more risk of developing Osteoarthritis in the hip are:

•       being overweight

•       a previous hip injury

•       repeated lifting of heavy loads

•       a family history of Osteoarthritis

•       increasing age

•       where the hip joints may not have formed correctly

Your GP will diagnose Osteoarthritis, by talking over your symptoms and conducting a physical examination.  An X-ray may be required, to check for narrowing and changes in the shape of your hip joint. An X-ray that shows joint damage does not always mean you will have a lot of pain or problems. On the other hand your joint may be very painful despite X-rays being ‘normal’.  Blood tests are generally only helpful to rule out other types of arthritis.  In more complex cases, your GP may organise for you to have a MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) to produce more detailed images of the hip bone and soft tissues, including cartilage.

Treatment for hip osteoarthritis depends on which joints are affected and the severity of the condition. Each treatment has its own benefits and risks and you may need to trial several treatments before finding the one that assists you.

In general terms, the best treatment plan usually includes:

•       A weight loss program, if you are overweight

•       A hip exercise program that is tailored to your condition and ability.  Although exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing, activities such as gentle stretching, walking, swimming and biking can be helpful to relieve arthritis pain, stiffness, and swelling.

•       Pain management, with osteoarthritis medication and education about how to best manage your pain

•       A walking aid such as a walking stick or frame can take pressure off the hips and provide additional support to the joints. It can help you to maintain your stability and balance, reducing the risk of a fall.

If your symptoms are no longer controlled with other therapies, you may be referred to an Orthopaedic Hip Surgeon.   Hip replacement surgery may be an option if more conservative approaches are not effective.



Book an appointment with our orthopaedic specialists

Book an appointment