Hip Arthritis - Symptoms & Causes

What is hip arthritis?

Hip arthritis is a painful condition of the hip, characterised by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint. While there are several types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis and lupus arthritis, hip arthritis is among the most frequent causes of hip pain.

The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is often referred to as ‘wear-and-tear’ arthritis. In this type of arthritis, the normal smooth cartilage wears away until bare bone is exposed.

What are the symptoms of hip arthritis?

In most cases, pain around the hip joint develops slowly and worsens over time. It may feel worse after prolonged inactivity such as upon waking in the morning, or after sitting or resting for some time. It could also progress to the point where it is felt even while you are resting.

Common symptoms may include:

  • Stiffness in the hip joint that makes it difficult to walk or bend, leading to limited range of motion and/or limping while walking
  • ‘Locking’ or ‘sticking’ of the joint
  • Grinding sound during movement (caused by loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue)
  • Pain that flares up during or after being active
  • Pain in the groin area that radiates towards the buttocks or down to the knee

What are the causes of hip arthritis?

Hip arthritis usually affects patients older than 50 years and is also common in those who are overweight. Some unusual causes of arthritis are:

  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip, which occurs when the hip is dislocated or out of position during infancy. As a result, the joint may not develop properly, leading to arthritis and walking problems at a young age.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD), which is similar to osteonecrosis (reduced blood supply to the bone) but happens during childhood. It can lead to permanent hip damage and early arthritis.

As osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, it can progress and lead to complications which include:

  • Bone death (osteonecrosis)
  • Stress fractures
  • Bleeding or infection in joints
  • Deterioration of tendons and ligaments around joints

In addition, the chronic pain from osteoarthritis is also linked to sleep disruption, anxiety and depression, reduced productivity and activity, weight gain and increased risk of falls or injury.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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