The Hips are one of the most common places in the body which can be affected by arthritis.
Almost every type of arthritis (remember there are over 120 different types) can impact the hip and cause pain, stiffness, swelling and inflammation. These symptoms can make it very hard to move around and complete even the simplest of tasks like getting out of bed and walking around.
Luckily there are some great treatments available to help treat hip arthritis, as well as some simple ways to reduce your risk of developing the condition.
Getting a Diagnosis
As many different types of arthritis can impact the hip, the most important step in the treatment journey is getting an accurate diagnosis. Seeing your GP is a great place to start. In many cases a GP can diagnose your arthritis. However, if they are unsure or would like a second opinion they may choose to refer to you a specialist such as a rheumatologist or orthopaedic specialist.
Once you have a diagnosis your doctor (GP or specialists) may choose to prescribe medication to help manage your condition. These medications may look to treat the symptoms of hip arthritis such as pain and swelling, or for some inflammatory types of arthritis (e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis), medications can be used to treat the underlying cause of the condition. Have a look at our Medicines and Arthritis Infosheet for more information on medications and arthritis.
Surgery is also a treatment option of people with very severe hip arthritis. Surgery should only be considered when, and only when, other non-surgical methods have not worked. Orthopaedic specialists are the experts the surgical treatments for arthritis. Check out our Surgery and Arthritis Infosheet to learn more about the different types of arthritis surgery.
Allied Health Treatments
Allied health professionals such as physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, dieticians, and podiatrists can all help manage hip arthritis. These professionals use a range of therapies to help slow the progression of arthritis as well as to manage the pain and stiffness of the condition.
Physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, podiatrists and occupational therapists use exercise and other joint protection strategies (e.g. Splinting, bracing, assistive equipment) to manage hip arthritis.
Exercise is one of the best ways to treat hip arthritis. Targeted exercises have been shown to reduce pain, improve movement and maintain a good quality life. Allied health professionals prescribe exercise like a doctor prescribes medication to treat hip arthritis. Most of these treatments centre around strengthening up our joints and reducing the strain we place on them.
Being overweight is a major risk factor for hip arthritis. If you have trouble maintaining a healthy weight a Dietician can help. Dieticians can design a diet to help you manage weight.
For information on all the different Allied Health professionals who can treat arthritis, read our Working with your Healthcare Team infosheet. If you have Hip Arthritis and would like to see an Allied Health professional speak to your doctor about organising a GP Management Plans. These tailored plans make it easier for you to see Allied Health Professionals and allow you to claim some of the costs back through Medicare.
There are many other treatments for hip arthritis that are either untested or have been shown to provide little benefit, these include:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin. The results from studies have shown that this treatment has little benefit of hip osteoarthritis. For more information, visit Arthritis Australia’s webpage – Glucosamine and chondroitin
- Herbal therapies – There very little evidence to prove that herbal therapies are useful for arthritis of the hip. For more information, visit Arthritis Australia’s webpage – Complementary therapies
- TENs, Ultrasound and Laser – These treatments may be useful for areas of the body, and for other conditions, however for hip arthritis research has shown that they are unlikely to help hip arthritis.
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injections – Although this is an exciting area of research, at this time no research has proven that these treatments work. Currently there is not enough evidence to recommend their use due to their high cost, risks, and the lack of standards and understanding about their use.