Causes and Treatment of Hip Arthritis
Courtesy Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southlake, South Denton County LIVING WELL Magazine
Hip and knee arthritis are common causes of treatable pain in today’s society and, in fact, are becoming more common as baby boomers age. While knee arthritis is almost three times as common as hip arthritis, the pain from either can range from being an occasional irritant to completely debilitating. There are a number of causes of hip arthritis as well as several treatment options, which will be discussed in this article.
The normal hip joint is a ball and socket joint with both the ball and socket covered with articular cartilage. The outer edge of the socket is extended by a lip of cartilage called the labrum, which deepens the socket. The lining of the joint produces a small amount of lubricating fluid and movement across the joint and is smooth and painless.
Hip arthritis can be divided into two basic categories – inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory hip arthritis. In this group of conditions, the synovium, or lining of the joint becomes inflamed and the cartilage covering the ball and socket can become damaged. A rheumatologist is instrumental in medical treatment of these conditions. Multiple medications are available, but when these no longer alleviate the pain adequately, hip replacement is the treatment of choice.
Non-inflammatory arthritis, or osteoarthritis, is far more common than inflammatory arthritis and becomes more common with age. It is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Inflammation is present in osteoarthritis, but it is secondary to the cartilage damage, not the cause of it. In most cases of hip osteoarthritis the cause is not known, but there is believed to be a strong genetic component. There are cases in which the cause is known such as congenital hip dysplasia, where the socket is abnormally shallow and the ball may or may not be dislocated, and traumatic causes where either the ball or socket has been fractured and arthritis forms afterwards. Regardless, the final common result is arthritis, which progresses from mild cartilage damage to the end result which is bone on the ball rubbing on bone on the socket. Symptoms include pain in the groin, buttock or thigh and can radiate to the knee. Stiffness usually accompanies the pain and patients typically have trouble with activities such as putting on their shoes as the condition progresses.
Treatment early in the course of osteoarthritis includes anti-inflammatory medication and perhaps glucosamine. Tylenol may help with the discomfort, but does not treat the inflammation. Activity modification, or avoiding activities which cause pain or make the arthritis progress, is begun. Use of a cane may be attempted to take some of the stress off of the affected joint. Ultimately, surgery may be discussed. Patients with severe arthritis should begin to think about surgery when the pain is significant enough to prevent exercise, to prevent activities that make life enjoyable, or requires narcotic medication to be tolerable.
Hip replacement is the treatment of choice for hip arthritis. During the procedure, the diseased ball is removed, a titanium stem is placed within the thighbone and a metal or ceramic ball is placed on the stem. A new metal socket is placed into which a plastic liner is secured. Results from this procedure are excellent. A well functioning total hip replacement typically feels like a normal, non-arthritic hip.
In order to provide the highest quality experience available, the Joint Replacement Center at Texas Health Southlake has partnered with a fellowship trained joint replacement surgeon with a highly rated hospital. Dr. Taunton’s entire practice is dedicated to the treatment of arthritis of the hip and knee and he performs over 400 per year at Texas Health Southlake. He performs minimally invasive surgery, which entails minimizing the incision and muscle dissection without inhibiting the best outcome possible. The hospital, which is a surgical specialty hospital, is geared in every aspect to provide the highest quality care available to its patients. Nurses, which never cover more than four patients apiece, are very experienced to the needs specific to joint replacement patients, which leads to a very high satisfaction rate among patients surveyed after their surgery.
If you have hip or knee arthritis, consider calling Dr. Taunton’s office at 817-540-4477 or the Joint Center Coordinator – Donna Cheatham, RN, 817-748-8773, at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southlake.