How Arthritis Affects the Hips

Hip Arthritis in Singapore

Arthritis of the hip joint can occur in people of all ages; however, it is more commonly seen in older adults. Patients often experience joint pain, stiffness and often a lot of difficulty doing day-to-day activities like walking. Older adults and those who have had prior hip injuries before, are at an increased risk of developing hip arthritis.

Though not always preventable, there are ways to reduce one’s risk of developing hip arthritis. As for those who already do have the condition, there is a wide range of treatments available, ranging from conservative to surgical options.

What are the Common Types of Hip Arthritis?

Different types of arthritis that can affect the hips include:

  • Hip osteoarthritis: This is characterised by the deterioration of the cartilage in the hip joint due to “wear and tear.” The hip is lined with cartilage that serves as a shock absorber between bones to prevent friction and assist with motion. If this cartilage becomes damaged, the bones will rub against each other, causing pain, limited movement, and functional disability.
  • Avascular necrosis / Osteonecrosis: This is a condition where the blood supply to the hip joint is disrupted. This results in bone cell death or osteonecrosis. This process usually takes months to years to progress. Avascular necrosis can lead to small breaks in the bone and may cause the bone to collapse causing hip arthritis. This condition is most common in people between the age of 30-60.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the joint. Stiffness and discomfort of the thigh and groin, together with intense pain and swelling, are some of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: This type of hip joint arthritis develops as a result of an injury or direct trauma to the hip joint. Compared to other forms of arthritis that occur over a period of time due to wear and tear, this one occurs soon after an injury.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Arthritis?

Patients with hip arthritis often experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain near or in the hip joint, which may include pain in the groin, back, and outer thigh
  • Hip stiffness
  • Limited movement
  • Difficulty walking or bending
  • Clicking or cracking sound when moving the hip
  • Pain that worsens when moving the hip or on weight bearing / impact

How is Hip Arthritis Diagnosed?

In order to accurately diagnose a patient, the orthopaedic specialist will usually perform the following assessments:

  • Review the patient’s medical history and family history of hip-related issues
  • Conduct a physical examination to determine the extent of symptoms, such as the nature of the pain and range of motion
  • Facilitate imaging tests such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans; all of which will provide the doctor with a detailed look into the various structures of the hip joint and its surrounding areas
Hip Pain

What are the Treatments for Hip Arthritis?

If diagnosed with hip arthritis, patients may be recommended one or more of the following hip arthritis treatments, depending on the severity of their condition:

  • Lifestyle modification: This involves engaging in low-impact exercise, getting sufficient rest, consuming a balanced diet, maintaining bone density via supplements if needed, and maintaining a healthy weight. These can often help alleviate the symptoms of hip arthritis.
  • Physiotherapy: With the help of a physiotherapist, a personalised exercise routine can be given to alleviate joint pain and stiffness, improve range of motion, and strengthen the muscles supporting the hip joints.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid joint injections can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with hip arthritis. However, these are usually not intended to be used as a long-term option.
  • Hip replacement surgery: In cases of severe hip arthritis, doctors will often have to resort to surgical treatment, most commonly a hip replacement. This surgery removes damaged bone and cartilage and replaces it with a prosthetic implant; effectively restoring comfort and mobility to patients.

What types of Hip Replacement Surgery are Available?

Hip replacement surgery can be performed through different incisions. These include performing through the back (posterior), side (lateral) or from the front (anterior).

Dr LS Wang is trained in minimally invasive techniques of hip replacement and specialises in the Direct Anterior hip (DAA) and Direct Superior hip (DSA) replacements.

At Arete Ortho, our philosophy is for minimally invasive techniques to facilitate enhanced recovery for all our patients.

Can Hip Arthritis Be Prevented?

While it cannot fully be preventable, you can reduce your likelihood of developing hip arthritis with these tips:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excessive weight places additional stress on the joints, especially weight-bearing ones like the hips.
  • Have an active lifestyle: This helps to keep the muscles around the hip joint strong and the joint flexible, thereby providing better support, range of motion and stability.
  • Protect yourself from hip injuries: From wearing proper protective gear to adopting proper techniques when doing heavy lifting or rigorous sports activities, this can help to reduce the chances of sustaining an injury to the hip, which is a risk factor for future development of arthritis.

FAQs on Hip Arthritis

  • Can hip arthritis be cured?

    While there is no cure for hip arthritis, there are many treatments available that can significantly improve one’s quality of life. This may include non-surgical and surgical options like a hip replacement surgery.

  • Can hip arthritis be caused by high-impact exercise?

    While high-impact exercises can potentially contribute to the development of hip arthritis in the future, they do not, in itself, directly cause hip arthritis.

  • Can hip arthritis affect younger adults?

    Though less common, it can certainly affect some younger adults who perhaps have other risk factors, such as a previous hip injury or certain medical conditions (e.g. hip dysplasia, autoimmune disease).

  • Can hip arthritis affect both hips at the same time?

    Yes, it is possible for arthritis to affect both hips at the same time. It is also possible for the condition to develop in one hip at first, before progressing to the other hip over time.

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