Hip Osteoarthritis

Hip Osteoarthritis Happens to The Best of Us

In Lower Extremity Pains by Royce Bowman, PT, Director

Your hips are a major hub of movement in your body. Do you suffer from joint pain on one or both sides of your hip? Do you feel stiffness when you get up from sitting for too long? Have you noticed the loss of mobility in your hips? If any of these sound familiar, you may have hip osteoarthritis.

Common problems caused by hip arthritis pain

  • Pain after or while walking
  • Getting in and out of vehicles becomes painful
  • Participation in recreational sports becomes limited or impossible
  • Poor quality sleep due to hip pain
  • Pain while squatting or rising from a kneeling position

What does osteoarthritis of the hip feel like?

  • It can be a dull ache deep in the joint or a sharp pain in the groin
  • There is significant loss of mobility and stiffness
  • Certain movements can cause a “pinching” pain that can take your breath away

How or why does hip osteoarthritis pain occur?

Like most osteoarthritis, it’s a “wear and tear” phenomenon like your brake pads on your car wearing out. The exposed bone under the cartilage rubs against the opposing exposed bone causing pain.  Also, bone spurs form around the periphery of the joint which limits mobility and causes pain.

Hip osteoarthritis stagesHip Osteoarthritis

Once the hip arthritis progresses to a certain point, a cascade of negative bodily compensations result.

When the pain and bone spurs limit mobility, soft tissue around the joint tightens. This further compresses the joint causing more pain. Increased pain inhibits muscle activity resulting in muscular weakness.

You know the seriousness of your hip osteoarthritis when your pain exceeds 7 out of 10 rating. You feel weakness and excessive stiffness. These complications interfere with your quality of life and rob you of many activities that you enjoy doing.

What You Can Do to Get Pain Relief

  •     Avoid activities that cause compression or  aggravation of the hip(s)
  •     Stretch specific soft tissues that are tight
  •     Strengthen specific weak muscles
  •     Use modalities such as ice and hot packs
  •     Consult with your MD about what medication might be right for you
  •     Try physical therapy

How do you slow down or stop osteoarthritis progress?

First, look at your weight. Extra pounds punish your weight bearing joints. Losing weight can help improve your hip pain and protect your joints

Second, cutting sugar and other inflammatory foods can lessen arthritis pain. This helps you lead a healthier lifestyle and improve your overall quality of life.

How does physical therapy help me relieve hip osteoarthritis pain?

If you’re in significant pain, you will need a “specific prescription” of exercises to see improvement. Just walking or riding a bike does not have enough specificity to relieve your pain.

When you consult with a PT, you will get a thorough examination of your range of motion, strength, balance and skeletal alignment. After that, you may receive a treatment to help mitigate pain, muscle spasm, and loosen you up   for exercise.

The exercise program consists of a series of stretching, strengthening, gait and balance activities. The key is that  specifically designed exercises target your deficits. Manual mobilization, followed by passive stretching, can also improve your mobility.

You will also receive

  • education on ergonomics,
  • advice on stretching and strengthening equipment you will need for home,
  • learn the use of ice and heat at home
  • and most importantly pictures of your Home Exercise Program (HEP). This guides you for your exercises on non-PT days and after you have been discharged.

Why You Should Consider Physical Therapy Before Surgery

PT will not reverse the arthritic changes that have already occurred. However, we have had some patients achieve complete resolution of hip pain and others who were able to postpone surgery for several years. Even if you participate in PT and still require a hip replacement surgery, the exercises and education should help your post-operative recovery and expedite your return to normal activities.

Hip osteoarthritis pain can cause significant disability and diminished quality of life. If you are suffering with chronic hip pain, please seek out the most appropriate treatment option for you.

Hip Osteoarthritis