Hip degeneration is also be known as osteoarthritis. It features the gradual breakdown and eventual loss of cartilage in the hip. This loss of cartilage reduces the shock absorbtion capabilities of the joints, decreases the amount of synovial fluid (like oil for the joints) and increases the amount of joint instability. As the joints are now more unstable with less shock absorption capabilities they begin to wear much faster. Once the joints have lost the protective cartilage layer the bones themselves begin to wear. In advanced osteoarthritis there is complete loss of the cartilage cushion between the bones. This causes significant swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints. Inflammation of the cartilage also leads to the growth of osteophytes or bony spurs. These spurs create an uneven surface of the joint, cause more frictions resulting in more degeneration and an increased inflammatory response.
Predisposing factors for hip degeneration:
- Being overweight.
- Previous serious injury to the hip.
- Repetitive trauma to the hip from sports requiring a lot of squatting type movements.
- Having abnormally shaped joints.
- Having untreated pathologies such as femoroacetabular impingement.
- Weakness of the hip or lower back stabilisers.
- Decreased flexibility and stability of the hip.
Hip degeneration generally occurs gradually over time. At first you will start with some minor stiffness in the morning or a general ache after exercise. At first you may not even notice the symptoms of early stages of osteoarthritis however with time these will become more apparent and limit what you can do. It is beneficial to catch it early so you can do your best to manage your symptoms so that you can prevent them from becoming worse.
Signs and symptoms of hip degeneration/hip arthritis include:
- Groin or buttock pain.
- Pain on weight bearing.
- Stiffness of the hip joint.
- Grinding and crunching sounds as you flex and twist your hips.
- Decreased movement, a loss of internal rotation is a good indicator of hip degeneration.
- Fluctuations in symptoms depending on the weather.
- Special tests as done by your physiotherapist will help confirm hip arthritis.
Treatments for hip degeneration/hip arthritis include:
- Correct strengthening for the pelvis and lower back to provide stability, the wrong exercises ones will increase you symptoms.
- Mobilisations techniques to restore movements to your hips.
- Reduction of weight to remove the extra stress off the hips.
- Education on the management of your condition.
- Correcting any biomechanical abnormalities.
- Correct stretching exercises, some stretches will actually aggravate and increase your symptoms.