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Arthritis of the Hip

Do You Have Hip Arthritis?

The “What to do” Guide on Hip Arthritis

Arthritis is normal.  There, I said it, it's NORMAL.  If anyone came to me and said that they were arthritis free (after the age of about 25) I would simply just think that they were a couch potato and literally did nothing all day. 

The most common type of arthritis is what is known as osteoarthritis (OA). This type of arthritis is the most common in the USA, and affects more than 20 million people. Of this number, over half are over the age of 65.   This is when cartilage that is located at the end of a bone (for protection) wears away enough so that the bones rub together.  When this happens your body naturally attempts to protect itself by sending more cells of whatever tissue is rubbing together to stop the action of the rubbing.  In this case, more cells that create bone.  This is where bone spurs, or osteophytes come from.  You may have heard that you have these pathologies from an XRAY report.  Again, not uncommon to see at all, and a lot of times, it is not symptomatic or creates pain.  

So if you have been diagnosed with hip OA what does it even mean for you going forward?  Well, this is where an understanding of the stages of arthritis is important to know.  There are 3 stages, and they are as follows;

  • Stage 1; Mild OA; This is where there is a thinning of the cartilage that covers and protects the joint surface.  This can get irritated and cause some inflammation and is usually initiated with repetitive movements that are poor and create increased stress.  There can be periods of stiffness and soreness, but intermittent and do not last long. 
  • Stage 2; Moderate OA; This is where the joint loses water composition and the cartilage hardens and those pesky bone spurs start to show up. This is where the more those bone spurs rub, the more pain ensues, along with swelling and stiffness.  You may also feel more pain at rest due to the inflammatory response that has been created. 
  • Stage 3; Severe OA; In this stage, there is constant pain, loss of mobility, range of motion and constant swelling that comes and goes the more you are on your feet.  This is a stage that will most likely send you to your doctor to seek additional help because it has impaired your ability to do the things that you need, want and have to do throughout your day.  

It is also important to note with the hip that throughout any and all of these stages you may encounter groin pain, as well as lateral/outside of the hip pain that gets worse with the squatting position.  If things progress even further into the later stages, you may also get pelvic/scrotal pain that will FOR SURE send you to the doctor or ER.  

Now that we have decided you have it, and the stage your in, what do you do about it?  The answer, Physical Therapy.  Some other alternatives that people gravitate towards is pain management as well as a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.  

Why Physical Therapy?  First, we need to understand a basic concept.  Without any surgical intervention, no one, and I mean no one can take your arthritis away.  Therapy can help to alleviate the stress that is on the joint by doing painfree strengthening of the musculature around the area as well as address the movement impairments at the hip that can happen with loading and exercise.  In our opinion this is the best way to mitigate pain.  All other forms of pain relief can yield side effects and are more of band-aid treatment to mask the pain.

There are many studies out there as well as clinical anecdotes and case studies that show that the conservative (Physical Therapy) route can help with decreasing pain, improving mobility as well as functionality of a person who receives this treatment.  This treatment can include manual therapy, and graded pain-free exercise programs. 

If this route does not work, or your arthritis has advanced too far “past the gone” stage then, if you are a person who believes that they could benefit from surgery  there is good news.  Total hip replacements have come a long way.  I always tell family, patients, clients and friends that if I were to advise on any surgery, the hip is it.  The recovery is usually smooth, less painful than any other surgery, and there are little to no restrictions(depending on your physician and the type of surgery you have).  

If you think that Physical Therapy is the best option for you (we hope you do!). Our staff here at Curnyn Physical Therapy would love the opportunity to get you back to doing the things you love pain free! For a FREE 15-minute consultation don’t hesitate to call us at (817) 923-9000!