Last updated: Nov 18, 2021

Anatomy & Background

The hip joint is one of the largest joints in the body. It is composed of one osseous joint. The hip ensures weight-bearing and mobility on several different planes. The stability of the hip comes from the joint design, joint capsule, ligaments, muscle, and cartilaginous tissue called the labrum.

Bone and Joint

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. The femur and the acetabulum head and a part of the pelvic girdle that meet together form it. The head of the femur is a large ball, and the acetabulum is a shallow socket. This design allows for greater mobility.

Articular cartilage with a smooth and shiny surface that allows the bones’ ends to slide freely over each other covers the bony joint surfaces of the head of the femur and acetabulum. This cartilage enables the joint to move smoothly.
Anatomy of Hip Arthritis

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is the most common culprit behind hip pain that results in wearing, breakdown, or loss of articular cartilage. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis are the three most common types of joint arthritis.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of hip arthritis and is a gradual wearing down and degeneration of the joint surfaces or articular cartilage. This condition is most common in people over the age of 50, overweight people, and women. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body. However, it most commonly occurs in your hips, knees, hands, and spine. Hip arthritis is a degenerative disease which means your symptoms will become worse over time as the cartilage continues to break down.

What Causes Arthritis in the Hip?

Common causes of hip osteoarthritis include:

  • Genetics and family history;
  • Traumatic injury or fracture of the hip can result in the development of osteoarthritis;
  • Significant trauma that effects the circulation of the head of the femur. This condition is called “aseptic necrosis”, which can deteriorate the femur head;
  • Excessive use of steroids or steroid medication can result in degeneration of the joint and cartilage;
  • Obesity;
  • Diseases of the joint cartilage.

Other factors contributing to the development of hip arthritis include normal aging and improper formation of the hip joint.

Hip Arthritis Symptoms

Arthritis of the hip can cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain and achy-ness in the hip joint during activities;
  • Difficulty with walking and bearing weight on the affected leg;
  • Loss of motion of the hip in several directions, including abduction (moving out), flexion (moves toward chest), and internal rotation (turning the hip in);
  • Noticeable inflammation around the joint;
  • Weakness that makes it difficult to get out of a chair, squat, kneel, or climb stairs;
  • Cracking, grinding, crunching, or joint noises called “crepitus” occur when moving the hip.

All of your symptoms are taken into account by your doctor. He examines you to assess your mobility, gait, and weight-bearing capacity. In some cases, testing like X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be ordered. A blood test may also be required to determine the type of arthritis you have.

Hip Arthritis Treatment

Treatment of hip arthritis at our pain treatment clinic in New Jersey depends on the severity of the condition. You should follow some important guidelines at the beginning of such a condition. Treatment options include:

  • RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation to reduce the stress on the joint;
  • NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce pain;
  • The use of an assisting device, such as a cane or walker, may reduce stress on the hip while reducing a limp or gait deviation;
  • Injection of steroids to reduce inflammation of the involved joint;
  • In severe recurrent conditions, you may need surgery. We recommend a hip joint resurfacing or total hip replacement procedure in severe arthritis or joint degeneration cases.

Contact Redefine Healthcare today for more information about our hip arthritis treatment options by calling the office nearest you or using our convenient online scheduling system.

How to Manage Your Hip Arthritis Pain?

As the first line of treatment, Dr. Freeman, New Jersey’s leading pain management and injury specialist in New Jersey, Dr. Freeman, recommends abstention from activities that cause pain or stress the affected joint.

  • Rest: stay away from activities that cause pain. Avoid jumping, running, going up and down the stairs, kneeling, squatting, and walking for long periods;
  • Ice or moist heat: apply ice to the painful and inflamed joint or area. It’s one of the most efficient methods for reducing swelling, pain, and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis patients may struggle to tolerate ice. With stiff joints, moist heat (such as a warm or hot washcloth) may be beneficial. Apply ice or heat for about twenty minutes at a time at intervals. Do not apply to the skin directly;
  • Compression: apply light compression when using ice. If there is swelling, applying compression is beneficial;
  • Elevation: to help reduce swelling, elevate the affected area;
  • Movement: when at all possible, keep your joints moving. Patients who are in pain are less likely to move, which leads to further loss of motion, exuberated pain, and loss of function.

If your hip arthritis is severe or is not responding well to nonsurgical treatment options, the specialist will recommend you to undergo surgery.


Individuals with hip arthritis will have different outcomes and prognoses depending on the severity of the joint degeneration, motion loss, weakness, and age. Because this is an irreversible condition, it must be well managed, especially in severe cases. Arthritis treatment aims to reduce joint inflammation, relieve hip pain, and prevent further inflammatory processes.

The progression of arthritis will be slowed, your pain will be reduced, and your range of motion in the affected joint will be increased if you seek treatment sooner rather than later. Bone spurs, osteonecrosis, and septic arthritis will develop if the disease is not treated.

Mild Cases

Mild degeneration responds well to conservative treatment, which includes pain and inflammation medication as well as a stretching and strengthening program for the knee joint and surrounding muscles. In most cases, pain and function improve within 4 to 6 weeks.

Moderate Cases

Patients with moderate degenerative changes tend to have more loss of motion, pain, weakness, and function. In some cases, we may recommend hip joint resurfacing. Recovery can take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks, with the focus on reducing swelling and restoring range of motion, strength, and function.

Severe Cases

Severe pain, stiffness, limited range of motion, and function are all symptoms of severe joint degeneration. X-rays may help indicate a loss of joint space and “bone-on-bone” contact, as well as cartilage erosion on the joint surfaces. In such cases, joint replacement is usually necessary. The artificial hip will differ from the natural joint after a joint replacement, causing some limitations in motion and function. A total joint replacement typically benefits a patient’s quality of life. Hip replacement recovery can take 3 to 4 months of intense physical therapy and rehabilitation. Improvements in function and appearance can last for up to a year after the procedure.

Our top-rated pain management doctors and best injury specialist in NJ provide pain relief and rehabilitation care. Our doctors cooperate with the top-rated hospitals in New Jersey, including RWJ Barnabas and Morristown Medical Center.

This page was published on Jul 18, 2017, modified on Nov 18, 2021 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare
Dr. Eric D. Freeman, a highly regarded pain specialist

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a "top pain management doctor in New Jersey" and one of "America’s Top Physicians" for advanced sports injury treatments.

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