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Osteoarthritis of the hip


When most people say they have arthritis in their hips, they are referring to a type of arthritis called osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is caused by "wear and tear" inside your hip joints. It starts when cartilage is damaged.

  • Cartilage is the firm, rubbery tissue that cushions all of your bones and joints. It allows bones to glide smoothly over one another.
  • When cartilage breaks down and wears away, the bones rub together. This causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Over time, bony growths called spurs form, the ligaments and muscles around the hip become weaker and stiffer, and your hip gets stiffer. These are symptoms of osteoarthritis.

What does hip arthritis feel like?

If you have osteoarthritis in your hips, your hips or your groin are likely becoming stiffer and harder to move.

You may notice a rubbing, grating, or crackling sound when you move your hip.

Morning stiffness is the pain and stiffness you may feel when you first wake up in the morning. This stiffness usually lasts for about 30 minutes or less and it gets better with mild activity that "warms up" the joint.

During the day, the pain may get worse when you are active and better when you are resting. After a while, the pain may be present when you are resting. It may even wake you up at night.

How and why does arthritis start?

Often, the cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. The symptoms usually start in middle age. Most people have some symptoms of arthritis by age 70.

Symptoms may be minor for some people and severe for others. Before age 55, osteoarthritis occurs equally in men and women. After age 55, it is more common in women. It also tends to run in families.

These are some factors that make it more likely you will develop osteoarthritis in your hips as you get older:

  • Being overweight increases the risk because extra body weight causes more wear and tear on your hip joints.
  • Fractures or trauma to the hip in the past.
  • Doing manual labor for many years. Jobs that require squatting for more than an hour a day put you at the highest risk. Jobs with lifting, climbing stairs, or walking also put you at risk.
  • Playing sports that involve direct joint impact (such as football) or twisting (such as basketball, hockey, golf, or soccer).
  • You may have a condition call femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) that makes you more likely to develop hip arthritis.
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Review Date: 12/31/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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