Arthritis literally means "inflammation of a joint." In some forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, the inflammation arises because the smooth covering (articular cartilage) on the ends of bones wears away. In other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of a systemic disease. These diseases are considered the inflammatory arthritides.
Arthritis of the hip is one of the most commonly treated conditions. Arising from a variety of underlying conditions, all hip arthritis shares in common a loss of cartilage of the hip joint that eventually leads to bone rubbing on bone, and destruction of the joint. Unfortunately, once the arthritic process begins, progression is almost always inevitable. However, the degree of pain and disability experienced by people with arthritis varies considerably.
Depending upon the extent of the damage and the patient's symptoms and age, hip arthritis may be managed either non-surgically or with surgery. A combination of approaches may also be recommended. The non-surgical approaches that reduce pain and disability include activity modification--giving up those activities that cause pain, anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naprosyn, and weight loss. (While some claims have been made for the benefits of so-called nutraceuticals, such as glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, there is no good scientific evidence to support their use. Moreover, because these supplements are not regulated by the FDA, there is no assurance of quality.)
Surgical Treatment Options
options for arthritis of the hip include
osteotomy (in which
the bone is cut to realign the joint) and, more
hip arthroplasty (THA) or replacement of the joint.
The decision to undergo THA is made by the patient in consultation with the physician. For some people, the inability to participate in recreational activities that they enjoy prompts exploration of joint replacement. Pain--especially night pain--is another strong incentive for surgery. Others would rather modify their activities and rely on various methods for pain relief for as long as possible.
The availability of excellent surgical techniques and durable materials to replace the arthritic hip joint has made THA a more attractive option for many patients. These developments and the greater interest in participating in sports and recreational activities throughout one's lifetime have brought down the average age of individuals undergoing hip replacement.
Overall, THA is considered highly safe and effective. The surgery is performed with epidural anesthesia--the same type of anesthesia that many women receive during childbirth--so that they may be awake throughout if they so choose. This form of anesthesia significantly reduces the chance of complications associated with surgery and allows a more rapid recovery. Patients are usually hospitalized for no longer than 5 days and are then free to return home or, if they require additional assistance, to a rehabilitation facility.
The three most common types of inflammatory arthritis that affect the hip are:
Rheumatoid Arthritis - Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, meaning it may attack any or all joints in the body. It differs from OA in the following ways:
- Affects women more often than men
- Can strike young and old alike
- Causes destruction of the joint by severe inflammation
Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis is still not completely understood and there is no cure. Different factors may play a role in OA, including age, weight, trauma or overuse. The disease, common in people over 60, can occur at younger ages. Osteoarthritis causes the normally smooth joint surfaces to wear away. This results in pain and stiffness related to inflammation and later bone-on-bone contact and wear.
Ankylosing Spondylitis - a chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joint (the point where the spine meets the pelvic bone) that can also cause inflammation in other joints
Trends in Arthritis
A study from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has found that OA can have a significant impact on your everyday life. Many sufferers are less active, gain weight, lose sleep, and watch more TV. In addition, OA has been impacting people at an earlier age and causes sufferers to feel “old” before their time.
If you’re interested in reducing your pain and regaining more natural motion, hip replacement may be right for you. Continue exploring this site and speak with your doctor to learn more about your options.