Hip osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis is a common condition particularly in the older patient. The joint becomes roughened and this leads to both pain and stiffness of the hip.
Symptoms of Hip Osteoarthritis
The initial symptoms are usually mild with an ache felt in the groin on walking. As the hip gets more worn, increasing stiffness and pain are noticed and the pain becomes more frequent. When severe, pain can be felt at rest and at night, disturbing sleep. The stiffness often is noticed as an increased difficulty with simple tasks such as putting on shoes and socks or cutting toenails.
Treatments for Hip Osteoarthritis
In mild cases, often the symptoms can be controlled with pain killing tablets or anti-inflammatory tablets. A stick can be used to aid mobility and activity modification or losing weight may also help. Physiotherapy can help to maintain the movement around the hip.
Injections can sometimes be useful for short-term relief of symptoms but don’t usually provide long-term improvement.
When simple measures such as these are no longer working, a hip resurfacing or replacement should be considered. This is an operation to replace the worn out part of the joint with artificial components, which can be metal, plastic or ceramic, depending on the anatomy and patient requirements.
Both operations take about 2 hours and for either operation an inpatient stay of 4-5 days is required. Crutches are required for about 4 weeks and once the wound pain has settled, most patients find that they are left with a hip with greater movement and a lot less pain than previously. As with a natural hip, the replacement doesn’t last forever and can wear out or become loose over time. This could require a further procedure, a revision hip replacement. The great majority are however good for ten years or more.