Osteoarthritis of the Hip
By Laurence Schubert APAM
What is Osteoarthritis (OA)?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a type of arthritis relating to bones. Therefore, OA is a degenerative condition affecting the bones and the cartilage of joints. A joint is made up of bone, cartilage and other surrounding tissue. Cartilage is a strong, flexible connective tissue that provides shock absorption and cushioning between bony surfaces. Over time, cartilage breaks down, thus increasing stress and friction on bone. As a result of this stress the body creates bony deposits around the joint for protection, thus worsening pain and range of motion.
Osteoarthritis commonly affects hands, knees, hips, and spine. OA is more prevalent in older adults, however can affect all ages. As we age, the elasticity of our cartilage begins to decline, resulting in increased loading through our joints. The following are risk factors for developing OA: previous trauma to the hip, family history of OA, obesity, developmental dysplasia (birth defect), impingement of the hip and a history of intense weight bearing activities.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Â· -Reduced range of motion
Â· -Morning stiffness
Â· -Grating/cracking sensation during certain movements
Â· -Joint swelling
In the initial stages of OA, mild pain may be felt with everyday tasks such as walking, running or getting up from a chair. As the disease progresses, functional activities will become more difficult and more painful. As a result of decreased activity, muscular weakness is a common finding.
How can physiotherapy help?
Physiotherapy can help reduce pain, improve your function and delay progression of the disease. A physio guided program will target deficits such as strength, balance and proprioception. Treatment may also include joint mobilisation, stretching and muscle release. The individualised program will aim to reach goals that you have set with your physio, whether that is pain or improving your everyday function.
For more severe cases of OA, a surgical joint replacement may be useful in order to improve pain and function. Following this surgery, a comprehensive rehabilitation program will be needed to ensure recovery is quick and the surgery is effective.