Hip arthritis is inflammation of the joint which frequently causes pain, stiffness, and limitations in activities. There are many possible causes of pain in the hip region, such as back pain, bursitis, tendonitis or others. Chronic pain specific to the hip joint most commonly involves damage to the cartilage. As a ball-and-socket type joint, the hip provides many degrees of motion. This broad range of movements requires diffuse healthy cartilage to allow painless and smooth motion.
As cartilage deteriorates in the hip joint, the underlying bone becomes exposed. The irregular surfaces and the inflammation associated with bone moving against bone leads to pain and stiffness. The ball in socket joint becomes more like a square peg in a round hole. Pain typically occurs in the groin or the side of the hip.
Occasionally, hip pathology will present as knee pain. As hip arthritis progresses, limping and leg length discrepancies may worsen. A hip examination and radiograph is the most common method of diagnosing hip arthritis.
Other pathologies such as avascular necrosis or congenital hip dysplasia can also be diagnosed in a similar fashion. Nonoperative treatments can temporarily make symptoms more tolerable, but typically the arthritis and associated pain progresses.