Sometimes called “wear-and-tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is a common condition that many people develop during middle age or older. In 2011, more than 28 million people in the United States were estimated to have osteoarthritis. It can occur in any joint in the body, but most often develops in weight-bearing joints, such as the hip.
The hip is one of the body’s largest joints. It is a ball-and-socket joint. The socket is formed by the acetabulum, which is part of the large pelvis bone. The ball is the femoral head, which is the upper end of the femur (thighbone).
The bone surfaces of the ball and socket are covered with articular cartilage, a smooth tissue that cushions the ends of the bones and enables them to move easily.
A thin tissue called synovial membrane surrounds the hip joint. In a healthy hip, this membrane makes a small amount of fluid that lubricates the cartilage and eliminates almost all friction during hip movement.
Bands of tissue called ligaments (the hip capsule) connect the ball to the socket and provide stability to the joint.
As with other arthritic conditions, initial treatment of arthritis of the hip is nonsurgical. Your doctor may recommend a range of treatment options.
Lifestyle modifications. Some changes in your daily life can protect your hip joint and slow the progress of arthritis.
Physical therapy: Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles in your leg.
Assistive devices: Using devices such as a cane can be helpful.
Other remedies: Applying heat or ice, using pain-relieving ointments or creams, or wearing elastic bandages to provide support to the hip may provide some relief from pain.
In hip osteoarthritis, the smooth articular cartilage wears away and becomes frayed and rough.