Inflammation of a joint. Arthritis can occur in any joint of the body, including the spine. As a chronic condition, arthritis is the #1 cause of disability in America. Between approximately 40 to 60 million people suffer from arthritis. Arthritis affects women about twice as much as men.
There are many types of arthritis. The two major types are:
- Osteoarthritis - where the cartilage (cushioning between 2 touching bones) breaks down, causing pain and damage to the joint.
- Rheumatoid arthritis - an autoimmune condition in which the body's immune system attacks the joint and causes damage.
What are the common symptoms of hip arthritis?
Hip arthritis symptoms tend to progress as the condition worsens. What is interesting about hip arthritis is that symptoms do not always progress steadily with time. Often patients report good months and bad months or symptom changes with weather changes. This is important to understand because comparing the symptoms of hip arthritis on one particular day may not accurately represent the overall progression of the condition.
The most common symptoms of hip arthritis are:
- Pain with activities
- Limited range of motion
- Stiffness of the hip
- Walking with a limp
Evaluation of a patient with hip arthritis should begin with a physical examination and x-rays. These can serve as a baseline to evaluate later examinations and determine progression of the condition.
The most common symptom of arthritis is joint pain, and this is the reason most people seek medical care for their arthritis. The type of pain can vary depending on the type of the arthritis and the severity of the condition. Most people who have arthritis describe an aching pain in the joint that is worsened by activity and relieved by rest. The amount of joint pain usually corresponds to the amount of activity.
Swelling of a joint can occur with many conditions, but the most common cause of joint swelling is arthritis. The second most common cause of swelling is an injury to the joint. So if no injury has occurred, it is possible that the swelling is due to arthritis. Sometimes laboratory analysis of the fluid itself can help determine if there is arthritis or another cause of joint swelling.
Stiffness of Joints
People who have arthritis almost always feel stiffness in their joints. You can check your joint motion by comparing it to the joint on the opposite side. Stiffness is usually worse in the morning or after long periods of sitting in one position. As the joint moves with activity, it usually loosens a bit. Other ways to loosen a stiff joint are with heat application and anti-inflammatory medications.
Deformity of Joints
As joint cartilage is worn away by arthritis, the extremity may take on a deformed appearance. Just as if the tread is worn off your car tires, if enough joint cartilage is worn away, the joint may take on an angled appearance. This is often seen in the hands as crooked fingers. In the knee joint, people with arthritis may develop a knock-kneed or bow-legged appearance.
As joint cartilage is worn away, the smooth lining covering the rough bone is lost. When the bone is exposed, the joint may not move smoothly. You may feel or even hear a grinding sensation. Place your hand on the joint as you bend back and forth and feel for a grinding sensation of the joint.
Lumps and Bumps Around Joints
Arthritis can cause the formation of pockets of fluid (mucous cysts) or bone spurs. These are felt as knobby protuberances around the joint. They may or may not be sensitive to the touch, but they do give a lumpy appearance to the joint. Most people notice these on the small joints of the fingers, although they can occur throughout the body.
Joints that are arthritic are tender to the touch. If one side of the joint is more involved with arthritis than the other, the worse side is usually more tender. Pressing around the joint and having an elicit pain is a reasonable indication that the joint is inflamed, and that it may have underlying arthritis.
Joint inflammation can lead to symptoms of joint redness and warmth. These symptoms should be evaluated by your doctor because they can also be suggestive of a joint infection. However, it is not uncommon for the inflammation associated with arthritis to lead to redness and warmth of the joint.
What are the different types of arthritis?
There are several conditions that can cause joint inflammation, or arthritis. Use this information to learn more about the type of arthritis you have. The treatment of arthritis will depend on what underlying problem is causing your joint problem.
Wear-and-Tear Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis is a condition that is caused by the combination of several factors. While it is often called 'wear-and-tear' arthritis, this condition is due to more than just wearing away of the joint surface. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It usually causes pain and limited motion, and is most common in the knee joint and hip joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack its own soft-tissues and joints. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hands and feet, but can also cause elbow, shoulder, and neck problems. Joint swelling is often quite pronounced in rheumatoid arthritis.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or JRA, is another auto-immune condition, but it tends to affect children and adolescents. There is a broad spectrum of JRA, with some patients having just one joint involved, and others having many problems. The most commonly involved joint in JRA is the knee.
Gouty arthritis is a condition that is caused by the accumulation of crystals made of urate within the joint. The urate crystals are formed by an unusual breakdown of a normal body substance. Accumulations of urate within a joint causes gouty arthritis. The most commonly affected joints are the big toe and the knee. Fortunately, gouty arthritis has effective treatments.
Pseudogout causes a similar type of arthritis as gout, but the underlying problem is different. Pseudogout arthritis is due to the accumulation of calcium deposits within the joint. Pseudogout is most commonly seen in the knee joint.
Lupus arthritis is the most common manifestation of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE. SLE, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an auto-immune condition where the body's immune system causes damage to the joints. The most commonly affected joints in SLE are the hands, wrists, and knees.
The spondyloarthropathies are uncommon conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's syndrome, psoriatic arthritis, and enteropathic arthritis. All of these conditions are associated with other problems such as back pain, heel pain, and other conditions. The spondyloarthropathies are a specific chromosomal pattern, and thought to be related to a patient's genetics.
Infections within a joint cause inflammation leading to infectious arthritis. Other names for infectious arthritis include bacterial arthritis and septic arthritis. Treatment of septic arthritis depends on what is causing the infection, but often requires surgery to clean the infection from the joint.
Several conditions can cause bleeding within a joint leading to joint inflammation, or arthritis. These conditions include hemophilia, sickle cell disease, and pigmented villonodular synovitis. All of these conditions all blood to accumulate within the joint causing swelling and pain.
What is the treatment for hip arthritis?
Treatment of hip arthritis should begin with the most basic steps, and progress to the more involved, possibly including surgery. Not all treatments are appropriate in every patient, and you should have a discussion with your doctor to determine which treatments are appropriate for your hip arthritis.
- Weight Loss
Probably one of the most important, yet least commonly performed treatments. The less weight the joint has to carry, the less painful activities will be.
- Activity Modification
Limiting certain activities may be necessary, and learning new exercise methods may be helpful.
- Walking Aids
Use of a cane or a single crutch is the hand opposite the affected hip will help decrease the demand placed on the arthritic joint.
- Physical Therapy
Strengthening of the muscles around the hip joint may help decrease the burden on the hip. Preventing atrophy of the muscles is an important part of maintaining functional use of the hip. Anti-Inflammatory Medications Anti-inflammatory pain medications (NSAIDs) are prescription and nonprescription drugs that help treat pain and inflammation.
- Joint Supplements (Glucosamine)
Glucosamine appears to be safe and might be effective for treatment of osteoarthritis, but research into these supplements has been limited.
- Total Hip Replacement Surgery
In this procedure the cartilage is removed and a metal & plastic implant is placed in the hip.
Risk factors that can cause arthritis include :
Exactly how much heredity or genetics contributes to the cause of arthritis is not well understood. However, there are likely genetic variations that can contribute to the cause of arthritis.
Cartilage becomes more brittle with age and has less of a capacity to repair itself. As people grow older they are more likely to develop arthritis.
Because joint damage is partly dependent on the load the joint has to support, excess body weight can lead to arthritis. This is especially true of the hips and knees that can be worn quickly in heavier patients.
- Previous Injury
Joint damage can cause irregularities in the normal smooth joint surface. Previous major injuries can be part of the cause of arthritis. An example of an injury leading to arthritis is a tibial plateau fracture, where the broken area of bone enters the cartilage of the knee joint.
- Occupational Hazards
Workers in some specific occupations seem to have a higher risk of developing arthritis than other jobs. These are primarily high demand jobs such as assembly line workers and heavy construction.
- Some High-Level Sports
It is difficult to determine how much sports participation contributes to development of arthritis. Certainly, sports participation can lead to joint injury and subsequent arthritis. However, the benefits of activity likely outweigh any risk of arthritis.
- Illness or Infection
People who experience a joint infection (septic joint), multiple episodes of gout, or other medical conditions, can develop arthritis of the joint.
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