WHAT IS IT? OSTEOARTHRITIS OF THE HIP

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative process affecting the joints.  Initially there is mild ‘fraying’ of the cartilage surrounding joint, which if progresses, can develop into loose bodies which float around, the formation of osteophytes (bony growths), and ultimately, areas of cartilage erosion down to the bone.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in the groin, deep in the hip, outside of the hip and lower back

  • Referred pain down the front of the thigh to the knee

  • Pain worse in the morning, in cold weather before it rains, and after exercise

  • Aggravated by getting in/out the car, squatting, crossing legs, putting on shoes

  • Spasm of iliopsoas hip muscle

  • Reduced hip range of movement (especially extension)

  • Reduced weightbearing on affected side

What Causes It?

Age related degeneration increased by:

  • repetitive high impact activities which load the joints

  • leg length discrepancy

  • abnormal biomechanics

  • lumbar joint stiffness and thickening

  • reduced function of ipsilateral core muscles leading to pelvic instability

  • glute weakness

  • tight piriformis

  • obesity as it results in greater load that the joints have to endure

How to Self Manage

  • Keep your hip moving (pain free range)

  • Reduce high impact exercise, but maintain flexibility and strength

  • Use heat to reduce pain

  • See your pharmacist for advice on joint supplements

  • Seek assessment of your hip by your physiotherapist

  • Consider requesting an x-ray referral from your GP

Prognosis

Conservative management may be enough to manage mild arthritis, or even prevent surgery in the short term.


Once pain becomes constant and severe, and life activities are significantly impeded then specialist intervention and surgery is required.

How Physio Helps

  • Assess your hip and exclude other areas to confirm if OA is likely

  • Refer for an investigation (x-ray) if necessary

  • Prescribe an individual specific exercise program to gain as much range as possible

  • Address any biomechanical contributing factors

  • Correct any muscular weaknesses or imbalances

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