A woman holding her hip in pain

Hip Arthritis: Everything You Should Know

Are you wondering if your hip pain is being caused by arthritis?

Find out everything that you should know about hip arthritis.



Studies have found that one in four people may develop hip osteoarthritis in their lifetime.

This alarming statistic underscores the widespread impact of this disease.

Hip osteoarthritis is a specific type of hip arthritis that affects the hip joint, characterized by chronic inflammation, breakdown, and structural alterations of the joint. It's a common form of osteoarthritis, which stands as the most prevalent arthritis category. It involves the gradual erosion of cartilage and often leads to restricted locomotor activity or functional disability.

According to a recent study, the global incidence of hip osteoarthritis increased from 17.02 per 100,000 persons in 1990 to 18.70 per 100,000 persons in 2019. This increase in the age-standardized incidence rate (ASIR) of hip osteoarthritis reflects an upward trend over the past 30 years, with notable variations across nations and regions.

There are various common types of hip arthritis, each with unique characteristics. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the gradual wear and tear of the joint, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation of the joint lining.

Understanding hip arthritis begins with recognizing its prevalence, learning about its types such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and discovering how it differs from other arthritic conditions. This article aims to explore these facets and more, to offer a comprehensive guide on hip arthritis. So, how does hip arthritis impact the anatomy of your hip joint? Let's find out.

Anatomy of the Hip Joint

The hip joint is one of the body's largest and most vital joints. It plays a central role in supporting weight and allowing movement. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the rounded end of the thigh bone, or femur, fits into the pelvic socket.

Bones and Cartilage

The hip joint bones include the femur and the pelvic bone, where the two connect. Cartilage covers the surfaces where these bones meet. It provides cushion and allows smooth movement.

Ligaments and Synovial Fluid

Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect the bones and keep the joint stable. Surrounding the joint is a thin tissue called the synovial membrane. It produces synovial fluid, lubricating the joint, and reducing friction and wear.

Where is Hip Arthritis Pain Felt?

Arthritis can take a toll on this complex structure. The cartilage may wear down over time, leading to pain and stiffness.

Where hip arthritis pain is felt often corresponds to the specific area of damage or inflammation within the joint. This wear and tear can limit movement and hinder daily activities.

Causes and Risk Factors

Understanding what causes arthritis in the hip is essential for prevention and management. Several factors contribute to the development of hip arthritis. Some of these can be controlled, while others cannot.

An elderly man holding his hip in pain


As people grow older, the risk of developing hip arthritis increases. Aging leads to the wearing down of cartilage. This results in joint inflammation and pain.

A graphic of DNA


Certain genes may predispose individuals to arthritis. If family members have had hip arthritis, the chances of developing it may be higher.

A woman holding her hip in pain

Joint Injuries

Injuries to the hip, such as fractures or dislocations, can lead to arthritis later in life. Proper care and rehabilitation following an injury are vital to minimize this risk.

A scale next to measuring tape on a yellow surface


Carrying extra weight puts added stress on the hip joint. This added pressure can speed up the breakdown of cartilage, leading to arthritis.

Two movers lifting a chair

Occupational Factors

Jobs that require repetitive stress on the hip, such as lifting heavy objects or standing for long periods, can contribute to the development of hip arthritis.

An x-ray of a hip bone with arthritis

Other Medical Conditions

Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and certain infections can also cause hip arthritis. Regular check-ups and managing these conditions can reduce the risk.

Understanding the Conditions

While some factors like age and genetics are beyond control, awareness of what causes arthritis in the hip can guide actions to reduce risk. Through lifestyle changes and careful management of existing medical conditions, individuals can take steps to prevent or delay the onset of hip arthritis.

Signs and Symptoms: How to Tell if Hip Pain is Arthritis

Identifying hip arthritis symptoms is the first step toward proper care and management. It's normal to wonder how to tell if hip pain is arthritis or stems from another issue.

Pain in the Hip

One of the most noticeable hip arthritis symptoms is pain. It may be felt in the groin, thigh, or knee. This pain often worsens with activity and can be especially noticeable after long periods of inactivity.

Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion

Stiffness in the hip joint can lead to a limited range of motion. People may find it difficult to bend or move their hips. It can make daily activities like putting on shoes or getting out of a car challenging.

Swelling and Tenderness

The hip joint may become swollen and tender to the touch, another sign of inflammation. This can make sitting or lying on the affected side uncomfortable.

Sounds in the Joint

During movement, a grinding or clicking sound may be heard or felt in the hip joint. While not everyone with hip arthritis will experience this, it can be a clue to the presence of the condition.


Diagnosing hip arthritis begins with a thorough examination by a healthcare provider. They will ask about the patient's medical history, symptoms, and any previous injuries that may have affected the hip joint. A physical examination will follow, where the doctor assesses the hip's:

  • Range of motion
  • Strength
  • Alignment

They may look for signs of swelling, tenderness, or deformity.

Imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans are commonly used to get a detailed view of the joint and surrounding tissues. These images can reveal:

  • Changes in the bone
  • Loss of cartilage
  • Other signs of arthritis

In some cases, joint aspiration may be performed. A small amount of fluid is drawn from the joint to check for inflammation or infection.

Treatment Options

Treating hip arthritis is focused on relieving pain, improving joint function, and slowing the progression of the disease. The arthritis options available range from lifestyle changes to medications and surgical interventions.

For many individuals with hip arthritis, conservative management can provide relief:

  • A physical therapist can guide patients through exercises that strengthen muscles around the joint, improve flexibility, and reduce pain
  • Techniques like Hot & Cold Therapy, TENS Therapy, and Red Light Therapy can help manage pain effectively
  • Changes to daily activities, weight management, and proper footwear can make a significant difference
  • Tools like walking canes, rollators, and walkers can support mobility and independence

Medications play a crucial role in the arthritis treatments available:

  • Analgesics don't affect inflammation but can provide relief
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) reduce both pain and inflammation
  • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) can slow or alter the disease process, particularly for rheumatoid arthritis

When conservative management and medications aren't enough, surgical arthritis options may be considered:

  • Hip Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows the surgeon to view and treat problems inside the joint
  • Total Hip Replacement (Arthroplasty) replaces the damaged joint with artificial components to restore function and eliminate pain
  • Hip Resurfacing preserves more of the natural bone and can be an alternative to total hip replacement for some patients

Choosing the Right Treatment

The best treatment plan for hip arthritis is tailored to each individual's specific symptoms, age, activity level, and overall health. Working closely with healthcare providers, patients can explore the available arthritis options and develop a plan that aligns with their goals and needs. Early and consistent treatment can:

  • Prevent further joint damage
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Enable people to stay active and engaged in the activities they enjoy

Living with Hip Arthritis

Living with hip arthritis is a daily challenge for many people. The condition can make simple tasks like walking or getting up from a chair painful. Coping with arthritis often requires a comprehensive approach that includes medical treatment and lifestyle changes.

Physical therapy is one of the most helpful tools for coping with arthritis in the hip. It helps:

  • Strengthen muscles around the joint
  • Improve flexibility
  • Reduce pain

Exercise is also vital in managing symptoms and maintaining joint health. Swimming and walking are great activities that put less stress on the hip joint.

Medication is another part of the process of coping with arthritis. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can make daily life more comfortable.

Making changes at home can also aid in coping with arthritis. Supportive shoes, cushioned chairs, and simple adjustments in daily routines can reduce stress on the hip joint. Using assistive devices like a cane or walker can make moving around easier and safer.

A healthy diet that promotes weight management can reduce pressure on the joints. Eating certain foods can support overall joint health, especially those rich in:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals

Emotional support is a crucial aspect of living with hip arthritis. Connecting with friends, family, and support groups can make coping with arthritis less isolating. Talking to people who understand the challenges can provide encouragement and practical advice.


Hip arthritis is not a simple condition to endure. One of the main concerns it brings is joint deformity.

Over time, the types of arthritis that affect the hip can alter the shape and function of the joint. This leads to chronic pain and decreased mobility, making everyday tasks challenging.

The disability that comes with hip arthritis is another significant complication. Affected individuals may struggle to walk, sit, or stand without discomfort.

As the disease progresses, a person might even need assistance with basic daily activities. This loss of independence can take a toll on one's self-esteem and life satisfaction.

The mental health impacts of hip arthritis should not be overlooked. Living with chronic pain and limited mobility often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety. Without proper support and understanding, these emotional burdens can worsen, increasing the overall difficulty of managing the condition.

Research and Advances

Research and advances in the field of hip arthritis are paving the way for new insights and treatment options. Focusing on different types of arthritis affecting the hip joint sheds light on dealing with this painful condition more effectively.

One recent development is a systematic review and cumulative meta-analysis that evaluated the effects of exercise therapy on patients with hip osteoarthritis. This study included 18 randomized controlled trials. It found a beneficial effect of exercise therapy on pain and function both post-treatment and 6-9 months after treatment.

The effects were small, and it's unclear if they are clinically meaningful, but this research still contributes valuable insights into non-surgical treatment strategies.

Another significant event was the 2023 Hip Osteoarthritis Clinical Studies Conference. It highlighted the neglected area of hip osteoarthritis (OA) research. This is despite over 1 million patients worldwide needing total hip replacements annually.

The conference highlighted the need for large federal funders to request proposals for this area of need to increase both the quantity and quality of research.

Among the insights shared, Jason Kim, Ph.D., discussed the challenge that hip OA receives less attention than knee OA and the need for more focus on this significant area. Mathias Bostrom, MD, emphasized that understanding early hip OA mechanisms is critical to identify those at greatest risk and allow for timely intervention.

The alarming rate of hip OA due to hip deformity and developmental abnormalities was also noted. This was along with the urgency for more research activity in early- and mid-stage OA.

Treatment options for hip OA have been limited, with no disease-modifying agents available. The same nonoperative care continues to be the first-line treatment pathway for most patients.

However, research into mid-stage treatment options is underway, though not yet robustly recommended. These include injections of steroids and viscosupplementation therapy


The prevention of hip arthritis centers around reducing the risk factors contributing to developing different types of arthritis in the hip.

One key strategy is maintaining a healthy weight. Carrying excess weight puts additional stress on the hip joints, leading to wear and tear. Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise helps manage weight and keep the joints healthy.

Another preventive measure is to avoid injuries to the hip area. This means being careful in physical activities and using proper equipment and techniques. Activities like swimming and biking that are easier on the joints can be good alternatives to higher-impact exercises.

Finally, early detection plays a critical role in prevention. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can identify early signs of arthritis that might affect the hip. Early treatment can slow down the progression and even prevent some of the severe complications mentioned earlier.

Navigate Life with Hip Arthritis

Living with hip arthritis doesn't have to be a daily struggle. From understanding the signs and symptoms to exploring various treatments and preventive measures, being well-informed is the key to managing this condition effectively.

With over 35 years of experience, Carex Health Brands offers a wide range of home medical equipment and support products to assist those with hip arthritis. Join our email list to keep up-to-date with the latest insights and tools that bring dignity back to your life. Join us and read more about hip arthritis.

About the Author

Head shot for Brandon Landgraf

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

carex logo

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published