Osteoarthritis of the hip means that your hip joint cartilage can no longer withstand the stress it is exposed to. Just like osteoarthritis of the knee, causes of hip osteoarthritis fall into two main categories:
- abnormal stress — for example, a joint carrying too much weight, or not in correct alignment (which may be due to injury or congenital factors, among other things)
- abnormal cartilage — for example, changes due to ageing, fractures that extend into the joint, or disease.
Other types of arthritis (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, gout) also affect hips, and may ultimately result in symptoms that need the same kind of management as osteoarthritis.
All non-operative treatment options should be exhausted before you consider hip surgery.
- Analgesia: pain relief, in particular paracetamol and anti-inflammatory tablets (if it is safe for you to take them; please discuss this with your GP).
- Physiotherapy for muscle strengthening and gait improvement if required.
- Dr Ward can refer you to a specialised hip arthritis physiotherapy program.
- Injections into the joint can be helpful in some instances, particularly if you have medical conditions that make surgery more risky.
- Lifestyle modifications: can you avoid doing the things that make your hip hurt? Can you take some of the stress off your painful joint (e.g. by losing weight)?
Surgery is the definitive management for arthritis of the hip, but these measures may delay the need for surgery.
Many arthritic hips require replacement. A hip replacement is a big operation, and is not risk-free. Dr Ward will discuss the probable benefits and risks of hip replacement with you during your consultation.
All going well, a hip replacement can be expected to function for upwards of 15 years.
Revision hip replacement
Your hip replacement may need revising (re-doing) after a period of time. Depending on what exactly needs changing, this is usually a bigger operation than the initial procedure. Dr Ward will discuss this with your during your consultation.