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Arthritis / osteoarthritis

What is arthritis of the hip?

Arthritis occurs when the cartilage encasing the bones, which aids fluent movement in the joint, is damaged, resulting in friction. Any joint in the body can be affected by arthritis, which causes pain, inflammation, stiffness and reduced mobility.

Most cases of hip pain in adults that require surgery are caused by osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis in the UK.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause hip pain, although this is less common than osteoarthritis. Around 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis.

What causes hip arthritis?

  • Osteoarthritis occurs most frequently in people over the age of 45 although it can develop at any age as a result of injury or other joint-related conditions. It causes damage to the smooth cartilage that lines the joints, causing it to become rougher and too thin. This places extra strain on tendons and joints, which can cause swelling. Loss of cartilage can result in bone rubbing against bone, leading to further deterioration of the joint. Bony spurs called osteophytes can develop, resulting in increased inflammation and pain.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakes the cells that line the joints for harmful agents and attacks them, resulting in pain and swelling. This can spread to other parts of the joint, causing the breakdown of cartilage and bone. The condition typically begins between the ages of 40 and 50 and women are three times more likely to develop it than men. It is also more common in smokers. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that can lead to a wide range of symptoms. There is no cure, so treatment centres around managing the condition and helping to prevent flare-ups.

Hip arthritis

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