Diagnosis and Treatment of Hip Arthritis in Wake County

What is Hip Arthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of the joints of the body. The most common types of hip arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis that can affect various 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. Our hip specialists at Raleigh Orthopaedic are well-versed in the diagnosis and treatment of hip arthritis in Wake County. 

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 cases of 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 the production of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis develops slowly, and the pain increases over time.
  • 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 that 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 can eventually lead to arthritis.

Causes of Hip Arthritis

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

  • 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

Symptoms of Hip Arthritis

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

How is Hip Arthritis Diagnosed?

When diagnosing hip arthritis, a doctor will first want to know your medical history. From there, they will conduct a physical examination with your specific symptoms in mind. Depending on the results of the examination, your doctor may choose to order blood tests or X-rays. Blood tests will show genetic markers and antibodies, while X-rays will determine cartilage loss. Cartilage cannot be seen on an X-ray, but the space between the bones and hip joint can. If the area is narrow, cartilage may be lost. An MRI is usually not needed to diagnose arthritis of the hip.

Treatment Options for Hip Arthritis

Nonsurgical Treatment

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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 for hip arthritis 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 (ibuprofen and naproxen)
  • Corticosteroid (cortisone) injections

Surgical Treatment Options

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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. In most cases, this process relieves the pain of arthritis and makes it possible to perform daily activities more easily. If surgery is recommended for your case of hip arthritis, your surgeon at Raleigh Orthopaedic will walk you through your options and ensure that your questions are answered every step of the way.

Recovery from Surgery for Hip Arthritis

After hip replacement surgery to treat arthritis, patients may need a walker to get around their home and get used to their new hip joint. After three to four weeks, many patients are able to walk on their own without the need for assistance. Most patients are able to return to normal daily activity after six weeks of recovery, but it can take up to three months in some cases. Your care team at Raleigh Orthopaedic will provide recovery instructions for the period after your surgery and will be here to provide support throughout the recovery process.

How Can I Prevent Hip Arthritis?

There are several lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of hip arthritis. Activities such as running, jumping, or high-impact exercises may aggravate the hip and cause arthritis. Although these activities cannot always be avoided, it is important to always use proper form and take breaks when needed. Maintaining a healthy weight will keep added stress off the hip joints and reduce your risk of arthritis. Physical therapy can also be a very effective way to prevent arthritis, as proper low-impact exercises such as swimming and cycling can strengthen the hip without causing pain. If necessary, a cane or walker can be used to take stress off the hip and reduce pain.

Total Joint Replacement Specialists at Raleigh Orthopaedic

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Raleigh Orthopaedic is proud to offer our patients comprehensive and compassionate orthopedic care, including the diagnosis and treatment of hip arthritis in Wake County. We place a strong focus on conservative treatment methods whenever possible, and encourage each patient to be an active participant in their care. Whether you are facing a sudden orthopedic injury or chronic orthopedic pain, we are here for you. To get started with Raleigh Orthopaedic, give us a call at the location nearest you or book an appointment with one of our specialists online today! We look forward to hearing from you.