Arthritis Hip Pain

By Sally Ann Quirke, Chartered Physiotherapist | Filed under: Hip Pain, Arthritis and Back Pain


Arthritis and Hip Pain
Hip Pain from Arthritis - a common condition that can often be relieved by strength and mobility exercises

Osteoarthritis in the hips is a common condition I see at my clinic, with the patients that present for treatment often having difficulty walking. The hip is stiff and they describe the hip pain as either a sharp or a dull ache.

There are quite a few causes of chronic hip pain, so in order to diagnose whether your hip pain is being caused by arthritis, you will need to have it checked out medically and eliminate other potential causes such as bursitis pain referring from the lower back, or lateral hip pain first.

The good news is that once a diagnosis is made at an early stage, patients usually go on to do very well - often with simple exercises.

Osteoarthritis in hip
Osteoarthritis in hip

To describe it simply, Arthritis is where the joint space of your hip is narrowed and the soft tissues surrounding it start to shrink and tighten. Arthritis is a condition that results from wear and tear over time, as well as being due to genetic or hereditary reasons.

The hip is one of the most common joints affected by arthritis and when you examine the make-up of the joint, it is easy to see why. It is a ball and socket joint and is very mobile. So when you stretch and move it, it will hurt. When this tightness evolves a vicious circle often follows - you avoid stretching it by avoiding certain movements, and over time this potentially leads to greater stiffness and a worsening of the condition and the pain.

Symptoms and Treatment of Hip Arthritis

Usually if you have hip pain related to arthritis your hip will feel stiff as well as painful and you will find you have difficulty moving. Commonly, you will have difficulty bending your knee towards you chest - for example when you put your trousers on or go to climb stairs. You may also find twisting difficult due to rotational stiffness in your hip, like when you get into and out of bed or the car.

A successful treatment of arthritis and hip pain is helped greatly by an early and correct diagnosis. As I mentioned earlier, other potential causes need to be eliminated, so seek medical advice if these symptoms sound familiar. Examination by a Chartered Physiotherapist and an x-ray examination are my assessment of choice when it comes to hip pain diagnosis, but further medical investigation may be needed.

If a diagnosis of osteoarthritis in the hip has been made at an early stage, most clients do very well with their hip pain relief. Initial treatment generally require joint mobilisations and strength and mobility exercises, but after time mobility exercises are usually all that is required to maintain your hip. Usually, a full resolution of pain and stiffness can be reached and maintained by simple exercises. Medication can usually be avoided unless it is rheumatoid arthritis that you have, in which case an assessment from a rheumatologist is required as medication is usually needed.

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Resources for Arthritis

  • The Arthritis Foundation: The Arthritis Foundation provides a really helpful website full of information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. They also publish ‘Arthritis Today’, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4.2 million readers

  • Arthritis Research UK A UK based charity that researches the preventing and finding a cure for arthritis, as we’ll as funding research into the lives of those with arthritis.

While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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