What is Hip Osteoarthritis?

Arthritis is the inflammation of joints and can impact the hip, making it challenging to move without pain. Cartilage between the bones of a normal hip allow a gliding movement and effectively absorb shock. Arthritis of the hip causes a gradual disintegration of the cartilage and bone surfaces and results in inflammation of the hip joint. It can result from a particular injury or gradual damage.

Arthritis of the hip most often occurs in people over the age of 50. It is more common in overweight people with a history of hip injury.

Arthritis cannot be cured, however there are many options available to treat the symptoms and slow its progress to help reduce pain. The most common forms of arthritis to impact the hip are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative condition often experienced by middle-aged people. The cartilage in the joint disintegrates over time, becoming rough and minimising the protective space between the bones. As a result, the bones may rub together which causes the joint to become painful and inflamed.

When osteoarthritis affects the hip, the cartilage in the hip joint will gradually wear away and become rough, with the projective space between the bones decreasing. Bone rubbing on bone and bone spurs will often result. It is a disorder that develops slowly, with pain becoming more disabling as time progresses.

Hip Osteoarthritis Causes

The most common causes of osteoarthritis of the hip are:

  • Obesity
  • A genetic predisposition to arthritis
  • An injury of the hip.
  • The ageing process.
  • Improper formation of the hip joint at birth.

Hip Osteoarthritis Symptoms

People with osteoarthritis of the hip can experience problems walking and develop a limp. Stabbing, sharp or dull pain is the most common symptom and is felt around the hip joint. Pain and stiffness of the hip can be worst after a long period of rest, sitting or intense activity. Occasionally the joint will lock and a grinding noise can be heard during movement.


A good podiatrist can diagnose osteoarthritis through history taking, a physical examination of the hip and a Biomechanical Assessment to study your range of movement, look for swelling in the joint and pain experienced through movement. An X-ray, MRI or CT scan may also be recommended to evaluate the stage of the illness.

Hip Osteoarthritis Treatment

Your podiatrist should suggest one or more of the following treatment methods:

  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relief medication.
  • Weight loss may be recommended for overweight patients.
  • Your podiatrist can recommend certain exercises to strengthen and stabilise the hip, and minimise risk of injury.
  • Engaging in lower impact forms of exercise such as swimming.
  • A walking stick or walker can improve mobility and help people move with less pain.
  • Minimising activities that make the condition worse, such as climbing stairs.
  • Surgery may be recommended in some cases where osteoarthritis has progressed to an advanced stage or when other forms of treatment have not improved the condition.


Dan Everson Podiatry recommends the following activities to help prevent osteoarthritis in the hip.

  • Control your weight to lessen strain on the hip.
  • Treat any hip injuries as quickly as possible.
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