The hip joint is comprised of the head of the femur (ball) and the acetabulum (socket) of the pelvic bone. The surfaces of the ball and socket are covered by a layer of articular cartilage which provides cushion and support at the joint. With over use and over time, that articular cartilage can wear down creating arthritis. Without the smooth articular cartilage in the joint, the hip can become painful, loose mobility, and daily activities can become increasingly difficult.
X-rays can be helpful in diagnosis hip arthritis. Radiographs will show loss of joint space, bone spurs, and possible flattening of the femoral head. A physical exam by an orthopedic specialist will likely show loss of hip range of motion, grinding at the joint, and hip weakness. Some patients will limp or require the use of a walker for ambulation.
Initial conservative treatment is ideal when treating hip osteoarthritis. Physical therapy, oral anti-inflammatories, and corticosteroid injections can help alleviate pain as well as help increase range of motion and strength. If conservative care does not produce results, surgical management should be considered.
A total hip arthroplasty is an open surgical procedure where the head of the femur and the acetabulum are replaced with metallic and plastic components. This rids the body of the arthritic change, allowing patients to return to activity and decrease pain. The hip is a main weight bearing joint of the body. After a hip replacement, patients can return to normal activities of daily living and low impact activity such a walking, swimming, golf, hiking, etc. However, high impact activities such as running and jumping should be avoided to slow the wear down of the hip arthroplasty components.
The decision to proceed with a total hip arthroplasty should be discussed with the patient and their orthopedic surgeon. Many factors must be considered as well as determining the patients goals post operatively. If you are experiencing hip pain, call Sports and Orthopedic Specialists today for an evaluation.