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Diagnosing Arthritis of the Hip

  • Oct 10 2019

How can I tell if I am developing arthritis in my hip?

Arthritis has become such a common ailment that many people are unaware of just how serious the prevalence of this chronic disease is. Statistically speaking, if you have three people in a room, one of them is probably suffering from the stiff, swollen and painful joints that are the hallmark of arthritis. Currently, there are more than a hundred different forms of arthritis and, together, they are the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

There is no cure for arthritis, which is responsible for most complaints of pain in the hip. The pain, swelling and stiffness may begin gradually and progressively get worse as time goes by

Types of Arthritis That Affect the Hip

Out of those 100 different types, there are five that are most often found in the hip. These are:

  • Osteoarthritis – “osteo” means “of the bone” and osteoarthritis is known as the “wear and tear” type of arthritis because of the degeneration of the bones and tissue in the joint that takes place over time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – unlike the more common osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis in the hip is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks the tissue in the hip joint. Also different from other types, rheumatoid arthritis is a symmetrical disease and attacks both joints at the same time, meaning if it is in the right hip, it will also be in the left. 
  • Ankylosing spondylitis – even though the inflammation associated with ankylosing spondylitis is located in the spine and sacroiliac joint, the inflammation can spread to the hip.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus – while lupus is technically not a form of arthritis, arthritis is one of the common symptoms of this systemic autoimmune disorder. When lupus affects the hip it is often mistaken for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Psoriatic arthritis – psoriasis is thought to also be an immune system issue and psoriatic arthritis in the hip presents with red, scaly patches on the skin, as well as pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint.  

Diagnosing Arthritis

Arthritis in the hip can be painful, inconvenient and disabling. While there is, currently, no cure, there are a variety of treatment options that can greatly reduce symptoms. The first step, of course, will be an accurate diagnosis. Some forms of arthritis in the hip do show up in blood tests, like rheumatoid arthritis, which can be tested for antibodies or rheumatoid factors. There is no single test for the most common form of hip arthritis, osteoarthritis. Your orthopedist will typically document your symptoms, do a thorough exam and confirm their diagnosis with x-rays that often reveal degeneration of bone and cartilage, as well as bone spurs. 

Based on how far the arthritis in the hip has progressed, there may be hip replacement surgery in your future. This procedure has become increasingly popular due to the extremely high rate of success and satisfaction with the results, which can actually be life-changing. Prior to recommending surgery, however, your doctor will suggest non-surgical methods, typically consisting of some combination of medications to reduce pain and inflammation, along with activity modification and weight loss, if appropriate. 

If you have questions about arthritis in the hip or any other orthopedic concerns, the physicians and staff of South Island Orthopedics are very experienced in a wide range of orthopedic conditions and are committed to providing personalized care in a state-of-the-art facility. To schedule an appointment, or if you just have questions, please use our convenient online contact form by clicking here

Posted in: Arthritis, Hip