Early/mild arthritis

Hip osteoarthritis is a common condition that occurs when the protective cartilage in the hip wears down, while bone around the joint grows or loses its normal smooth contours. Hip osteoarthritis symptoms may develop slowly or come on relatively quickly. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain. Your hip may hurt during or after movement
  • Stiffness. Hip stiffness may be most noticeable when you wake up in the morning or after a period of inactivity
  • Loss of flexibility. You may not be able to move your hip through its full range of motion
  • Grating sensation. You may hear or feel a grating or catching sensation when you stand up, walk, or climb stairs

The cause of hip osteoarthritis is not well understood, but risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Female gender
  • Obesity
  • Certain occupations or sports that place high stress on the hips
  • Genetics
  • Altered shape of the ball and socket joint

The diagnosis of hip osteoarthritis starts with a careful history and physical examination. Imaging is often recommended, starting with plain radiographs (X-rays). Sometimes, your provider will recommend more advanced imaging, such as MRI. Occasionally, blood tests or joint fluid analysis are used to rule out other types of arthritis related to inflammatory or infectious conditions. When the diagnosis remains unclear, a diagnostic injection of local anesthetic into the hip joint may be helpful.

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