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What is Hip Arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the joints of the body. The most common type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, but there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis that can affect a variety of joints in the body.

The hip is the body’s largest weight-bearing joint, also called a “ball and socket” joint. The ball is the femoral head or the upper end of the thighbone (femur), which fits into the socket (or acetabulum) at the pelvis.

Primary types of arthritis of the hip

  • Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis, sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis, is a degenerative type of arthritis that occurs most often in people 50 years of age and older. It can occur in any joint in the body, but most often develops in weight-bearing joints such as the hip or knee. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears away over time. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones decreases, which can result in bone rubbing on bone and can produce bone spurs. Osteoarthritis develops slowly, and the pain increases overtime.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body. It can affect the same joint on both sides of the body. The synovial membrane that lines the hip joint begins to swell, which results in pain and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which means the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues and damages the cartilage and ligaments while softening the bone.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: A form of arthritis that develops after an injury to the hip. These injuries can cause instability and additional wear of the hip joint that over time can lead to arthritis.


Arthritis has no single specific cause, but there are certain factors that may make you more likely to develop the disease, including:

  • Increasing age
  • Family history of arthritis
  • Previous injury to the hip joint
  • Obesity
  • Improper formation of the hip joint at birth, a condition known as developmental dysplasia of the hip


The most common symptom of hip arthritis is pain around the hip joint, often in the groin area, down the front of the thigh. Pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting for a while. Over time, painful symptoms may occur more frequently, including during rest or at night. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your groin or thigh that radiates to your buttocks or your knee
  • Pain that flares up with vigorous activity
  • Stiffness in the hip joint that makes it difficult to walk or bend
  • “Locking” or “sticking” of the joint, and a grinding noise during movement
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip that affects the ability to walk and may cause a limp
  • Increased joint pain with rainy weather
  • Difficulty with activities, such as putting on shoes and socks, or getting in and out of the car


Nonsurgical Treatment

There is no cure for arthritis in the hip; however there are a number of treatment options that can help relieve pain and improve mobility. Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Activity minimization such as switching from high impact activity to low impact activity
  • Weight loss
  • Physical therapy
  • Assistive devices such as a cane, walker or shoe inserts
  • Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Corticosteroid (cortisone) injections

Surgical Treatment

If nonsurgical treatment options for hip arthritis symptoms fail to provide pain relief, surgery may be recommended by one of Raleigh Orthopaedic’s total joint replacement surgeons. Hip replacement surgery is a procedure where the damaged cartilage and bone are removed and replaced by new artificial joint surfaces and in most cases relieves the pain of arthritis and makes it possible to perform daily activities more easily.


Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Raleigh Orthopaedic is Wake County’s oldest and most experienced orthopedic practice, serving the Triangle and surrounding regions of central North Carolina since 1919. Raleigh Orthopaedic offers online scheduling so click the button below or call us at (919) 781-5600 to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our Raleigh Orthopaedic Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.


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