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There are several different types of arthritis and there are multiple places in the body where it can be present.
For the hip, osteoarthritis is the most common, with the joint of the hip degrading because of age and use. It can be present in one or both hips. When the cartilage in the hip wears away, bone rubs on bone causing the discomfort. The pain is typically felt in the hip, but can radiate to the buttocks and/or knees. The pain develops slowly and worsens over time.
Conservative Treatment for Hip Arthritis
For patients who have hip arthritis and are not yet ready to undergo surgery, management of the arthritis consists of physical therapy, corticosteroid injections into the hip, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications.
Physical therapy can help strengthen the weakened hip muscles surrounding an arthritic hip and improve a patient’s ability to manage the pain and dysfunction caused by hip arthritis. Therapy can also sometimes increase the motion surrounding the hip. Many patients who also have hip pain have low back pain. Physical therapy is very good at improving low back pain.
Corticosteroid injection involves a radiologist injecting an anti-inflammatory steroid medication directly into the hip joint to help relieve some of the pain caused by hip arthritis. The shots can be repeated every 3 months to make a patient more comfortable.
Anti-inflammatory medications, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) and ibuprofen (e.g., Advil), are also very effective at relieving pain. For acetaminophen to be effective, patients should take it three times a day. For example, patients without liver problems can take two Extra-Strength Tylenol (1000 mg acetaminophen) three times a day to maximize the results. Ibuprofen can also be used for pain relief as long as patients do not experience stomach problems, such as ulcers or bleeding. Excessive doses of ibuprofen can harm the kidneys, so follow the instructions on the bottle.
Do These Nonoperative Treatments Work?
These nonoperative treatments do not treat the underlying problem but rather treat the inflammation and side effects of the arthritis. Their purpose is to limit the patient’s symptoms, not cure the underlying arthritis. Unfortunately, conservative treatments for hip arthritis are not nearly as effective as for knee arthritis and patients who have groin pain and radiographic evidence of arthritis can expect their condition to worsen over time.
Surgical Treatment Options for Hip Arthritis
In more extreme cases when other options have been exhausted, surgery is necessary.
To schedule an appointment with the University of Maryland Orthopaedics Associates, call 410-448-6400.