woman in pain due to Osteoarthritis of the hip

Are you having trouble moving your hips or experiencing constant pain in your hip area? If so, you might suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition affecting the hip joints and causing pain and limited mobility. This type of arthritis is quite common and affects approximately 10 million people in the United States alone. 

While it can manifest at any age, hip osteoarthritis predominantly afflicts older adults, with a prevalence rate of 3-4% among those aged 65 and above. As people get older, osteoarthritis sharply rises, affecting as many as 33% of individuals aged 85 and older. 

The far-reaching impact of hip osteoarthritis on daily life, characterized by excruciating symptoms and compromised mobility, underscores the importance of comprehending its origins, methods of diagnosis, available treatments, and preventive measures.

Whether you’re seeking information for yourself or a loved one, look at the symptoms, pain levels, and available treatment options below. 

What is Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

Illustration of bones with Osteoarthritis of the hipOsteoarthritis of the hip, often referred to as hip osteoarthritis, is a degenerative condition affecting the hip joint. 

Over time, the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within the hip joint breaks down, causing a common form of arthritis.This results in the bones rubbing against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility.

Characteristics of hip osteoarthritis include:

  1. Cartilage Degeneration: The cartilage that covers the surfaces of the bones in the hip joint deteriorates, leading to decreased shock absorption and increased friction between the bones.
  2. Inflammation: The breakdown of cartilage can trigger an inflammatory response, leading to swelling and discomfort in the joint.
  3. Pain: Individuals with hip osteoarthritis often experience pain in the hip and groin area. This pain can vary in intensity and may worsen with movement or weight-bearing activities.
  4. Stiffness: The joint may become stiff, particularly after inactivity or rest. Performing everyday activities can be difficult.
  5. Reduced Range of Motion: As the joint becomes more affected, the range of motion in the hip can decrease, making movements like bending, squatting, or rotating the hip challenging.
  6. Bone Spurs: In response to cartilage degeneration, the body may develop bone spurs (osteophytes) to stabilize the joint. However, these spurs can contribute to pain and joint restriction.

How Serious is Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

The impact of osteoarthritis can range from mild discomfort to significant disability, and its severity varies greatly from person to person. Here’s a breakdown of the seriousness of osteoarthritis of the hip:


Hip osteoarthritis might cause intermittent discomfort, stiffness, and minor pain in its early stages. These symptoms might worsen with activity but improve with rest. 

At this stage, the impact on daily life might be minimal, and many people can manage their symptoms through lifestyle modifications, exercises, and over-the-counter pain relievers.


As osteoarthritis progresses, the pain and stiffness can become more consistent and affect daily activities like walking, bending, and climbing stairs. 

The joint function might be limited, and the pain might start interfering with sleep and overall quality of life. Medical interventions such as physical therapy, pain medications, and corticosteroid injections might be recommended to manage symptoms at this stage.


In advanced stages, hip osteoarthritis can lead to significant pain, joint deformities, and loss of mobility. Activities of daily living become increasingly challenging, and the discomfort might be present even at rest. 

Joint inflammation might also contribute to further discomfort. In severe cases, a doctor might recommend more invasive interventions, such as joint replacement surgery, to restore function and alleviate pain.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Osteoarthritis

If you are experiencing hip pain, it’s best to talk to a hip doctor first, as you may have osteoarthritis, inflammation, or a dislocation. These are some of the signs and symptoms to look for: 

  1. Pain and Discomfort:
  • Persistent pain in the groin area, outer buttocks, or thigh, often aggravated by movement.
  • Pain may intensify during weight-bearing activities like walking or standing.
  1. Stiffness:
  • Limited range of motion in the hip joint, especially in the morning or after prolonged inactivity. 
  • Difficulty in bending or rotating the hip.
  1. Reduced Mobility:
  • Difficulty walking or climbing stairs due to pain and stiffness.
  • Noticeable limitations in performing routine activities that involve hip movement.
  1. Joint Tenderness:
  • Sensitivity or tenderness around the hip joint, mainly when pressure is applied.
  1. Grating Sensation (Crepitus):
  • A sensation of grinding or grating within the hip joint during movement.
  1. Muscle Weakness:
  • Weakness in the muscles surrounding the hip joint due to decreased use caused by pain and stiffness.
  1. Changes in Leg Length or Alignment:
  • In some cases, hip osteoarthritis may lead to changes in leg length or alterations in the alignment of the affected leg.
  1. Difficulty Sleeping:
  • Discomfort and pain can interfere with sleep patterns, mainly when lying on the affected side.
  1. Swelling and Inflammation:
  • Swelling or inflammation around the hip joint, occasionally accompanied by warmth and redness.
  1. Functional Impairment:
  • Progressive deterioration in daily activities and diminished ability to engage in physical tasks due to hip pain and restricted movement.

Recognizing these signs and symptoms can prompt early intervention and management strategies, potentially mitigating the impact of hip osteoarthritis on daily life.

How Do You Treat Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

senior couple hapily recovering from OsteoarthritisSeveral approaches are available to manage and treat osteoarthritis of the hip, tailored to each individual’s needs. Here are some common strategies:

  1. Lifestyle Modifications: Engaging in low-impact exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, and incorporating joint-friendly activities into your routine can help alleviate symptoms.
  2. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and prescription medications can relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  3. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design exercises to improve joint flexibility, strengthen supporting muscles, and enhance overall hip function.
  4. Injections: Corticosteroid injections directly into the hip joint can relieve short-term pain and reduce inflammation.
  5. Surgical Interventions: In cases of severe hip OA, surgical options like hip replacement surgery may be considered to restore joint function and alleviate pain.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip, it’s essential to seek professional medical advice. At the Louisville Hip & Knee Institute, our orthopedic physicians are dedicated to providing personalized care tailored to your needs. 

Don’t let hip arthritis limit your life – take the first step toward a pain-free future by making an appointment with a hip doctor. 

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