Hip Arthritis

Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the hips. It is a painful condition that can have a significant impact on your mobility and quality of life. There are different types of arthritis but the most common is osteoarthritis, sometimes called wear and tear arthritis as it is often associated with ageing. Arthritis is a degenerative disease that worsens over time.

Causes of Hip Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is caused by degeneration of the cartilage that protects the hip joint. This cartilage, which is rubbery and slippery, allows the bones to slide freely over each other without rubbing, as well as acting as a shock absorber. Cartilage starts to wear naturally as we age and it can also break down as the result of inflammation in the joint or injury – either a sudden trauma or a repetitive injury. As weight-bearing joints, hips can be particularly susceptible to damage if you are overweight as this places them under stress. Certain kinds of sport also increase the risk of joint damage which can lead to arthritis.

Symptoms of Hip Arthritis

Symptoms of hip arthritis tend to begin slowly and become more severe as the disease progresses. They include:

  • Pain in the affected hip particularly during or after movement.
  • Stiffness after periods of inactivity.
  • Loss of flexibility in the hip joint.
  • A grating sensation or popping noises when you move.
  • Swelling, redness and inflammation around the affected hip.
  • The development of bony spurs which can feel like hard lumps around the hip joint.

Diagnosis of Hip Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the hip is normally diagnosed with a physical examination to check for joint tenderness and loss of mobility. You may also have an X-ray to check for bony spurs and the narrowing of spaces between your bones due to cartilage loss. Sometimes you may be given a blood test to rule out rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease. If your doctor suspects you may have an infection in the hip joint they may use a needle to extract a small amount of fluid for analysis.

Treatment of Hip Arthritis

Although there is no cure for hip arthritis, there are treatments that can help you to manage the symptoms. In the early stages, painkillers and therapeutic injections may be sufficient but as the symptoms become more severe, you may need surgery. The most commonly used treatments for hip arthritis include:

  • Painkilling medication and anti-inflammatories. As the condition develops, you may need a stronger dose – talk to your GP or consultant.
  • Physiotherapy. Certain exercises can be used to strengthen the muscles around your hip joint and increase flexibility. It is important to stay as mobile as possible and low impact exercise, like walking or swimming, is recommended.
  • Occupational Therapy. If everyday activities are becoming difficult, an OT can suggest ways of doing them to avoid putting strain on your damaged hip.
  • Therapeutic injections. These are injections of corticosteroids directly into the hip joint to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In some cases, you may also be offered injections of hyaluronic acid which mimics the effect of natural lubricant found in joints.
  • Hip replacement surgery. If you have severe arthritis, hip replacement surgery can provide lasting pain relief and help you to experience greater quality of life. There are different surgical options and your orthopaedic surgeon will discuss these with you.


We are an experienced and highly qualified team of orthopaedic surgeons using the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to eliminate or reduce pain so our patients can experience the best possible quality of life.


Whether you have an existing diagnosis or you are keen to discover what is causing your symptoms, contact us to arrange a consultation. We can organise any tests you require and discuss your treatment options.

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