Osteoarthritis of the Hip
Osteoarthritis of the hip joint is a condition that commonly leads to gradual disablement of the joint which eventually may require surgery in the form of a Hip replacement. Osteoarthritis of the hip can affect the elderly but may also be seen in younger adults who have previously injured that hip in an accident or who may previously have had an inflammatory condition affecting their hip.
It occurs due to the inability of the cartilage of the hip joint to repair itself as a result of the constant wear and tear within the hip joint. Cartilage is a shock absorbing material that serves to reduce friction within the joint. As the hip joint is constantly weight bearing during movement and whilst standing there are great levels of stress in joint leading to the cartilage gradually being worn away over time. This results in the underlying bone becoming hard and glossy due to greater friction with further bony growths forming along the margins of the joint.
Factors that may contribute to the occurrence to Osteoarthritis of the hip:
Uneven alignment of the pelvic
Hip defect since birth
Previous disease of the hip such as Rheumatoid Arthritis which may have damaged the cartilage.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Hip:
Pain in the Groin and Front of the thigh, often referring into the knee.
Pain increases with walking and is eased by rest.
In more severe cases there is stiffness with an inability to reach down to tie shoe laces.
Stiffness can be felt when getting out of bed or sitting for long durations.
Eventually leads to a painful limp.
Diagnosing Osteoarthritis of the Hip
A diagnosis of Osteoarthritis of the Hip will be based on the patient presenting with some of the above named symptoms in addition to further examination of the restricted joint movement coupled with x-ray, MRI and even blood testing to determine the extent of osteoarthritis in the hip. With patients who have been diagnosed with mild Hip OA that does not require immediate surgery, changes to their daily lives need to be incorporated to help prevent the condition from worsening and later requiring surgery. Changes can include, resting the hip from rigorous activities, losing weight through light weight-bearing exercise such as swimming, strengthening the muscles of the painful hip through non-weight bearing exercise.
Next week I will discuss other painful conditions the Hip joint.
Tomás Ryan is a Registered Physical Therapist with The Irish Association of Physical Therapy and is based in Thurles.
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