Arthritis of the hip, otherwise known as general wear and tear of the hip joint is an extremely common condition. It usually occurs in people over the age of 50 but can occur at a younger age in some people. Stiffening of the joint is usually an early symptom of osteoarthritis. You may notice that you can not get into certain positions like you used to do. You may have difficulty squatting, crossing your legs when sitting or simply striding out up the stairs.
Hip arthritis is simply a thinning of the joint cartilage that results in decreased cushioning within the socket. The cartilage can become frayed and roughened over time and in more severe cases cartilage becomes worn to the extent that the hip can become bone on bone which can be very painful.
Pain tends to occur in one or more of the following; the front of the groin, the front of the thigh, and /or in the buttock depending on the individual.
Sufferers tend to go through periods of acute pain and discomfort and then periods of normality. These periods will vary but the periods of acute pain become longer and closer together as the condition progresses.
Physiotherapy is extremely important for this type of problem and can help at any stage.
Physiotherapy will help to reduce symptoms using combinations of manual therapy techniques, electrotherapies and exercises; it can also help prolong periods of normality by increasing muscle strength and improving hip stability. This is important at all stages of the condition, whether symptoms are only just becoming apparent or a total hip replacement has been recommended by an orthopaedic consultant. Hip stability is a crucial part of the rehabilitation programme following total hip replacement. Increasing hip strength and stability before surgery will lead to a better outcome following surgery.
When symptoms start to occur, sufferers should see a physiotherapist as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis, so that the condition can be managed appropriately. In the meantime however, symptoms can be helped using combinations of heat or cold packs. Staying mobile without irritating the symptoms is also beneficial. Activities such as cycling or swimming (not breast stroke) can help the hip joint stay mobile with little to no joint compression.