Arthritis of the Hip
Roy I Davidovitch, MD
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
NYU School of Medicine
NYU Langone’s Hospital for Joint Diseases
Director, The New York Hip Center
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What causes osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, or due to other joint diseases, injury or deformity. Primary osteoarthritis is commonly associated with ageing and general degeneration of joints.
Secondary osteoarthritis is generally the consequence of another disease or condition, such as repeated trauma or surgery to the affected joint, or abnormal joint structures from birth.
Uric acid crystal build-up is the cause of gout and long-term crystal build-up in the joints may cause deformity.
Some people may have congenital abnormalities of the joint. For example, Perthe’s disease of the hips-that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.
Predisposing factors to Osteoarthritis of hip
Some conditions may predispose the hip to osteoarthritis. It tends to affect people as they grow older and particularly affects joints that have to take a lot of stress and strain.
- A previous fracture that involved the hip.
- Growth abnormalities of the hip (such as a shallow socket) may lead to premature arthritis.
- Some childhood hip problems later cause hip arthritis (for example, a type of childhood hip fracture known as a slipped epiphysis and Legg-Perthe’s Disease).
- Inactive lifestyle (obesity) – Your weight is the single most important link between diet and arthritis, as being overweight puts an additional burden on your hips, knees, ankles and feet.
Characteristics of an arthritic hip
- The cartilage lining is thinner than normal or completely absent. The degree of cartilage damage and inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis.
- The capsule of the arthritic hip is swollen
- The joint space is narrowed and irregular in outline; this can be seen in an X-ray image.
- Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint.
The combinations of these factors make the arthritic hip stiff and limit activities due to pain or fatigue.