Arthritis is a condition affecting the joints, causing pain and inflammation. It is relatively common and can affect people of all ages, even children, however, it is most common in people over the age of 60. Arthritis may affect one or several joints and often affects the “weight-bearing” joints, such as the knees and hips. There are over 100 kinds of arthritis and it is a progressive disease, meaning it cannot be cured and may worsen over time.
The hip joint is shaped like a ball and socket. The “ball” is the femoral head (the top of the thigh bone/femur) and the “socket” is the pelvis (or acetabulum), which is shaped like a cup. Like all joints, the hip needs its protective cartilage layer for smooth movement. Hip osteoarthritis occurs when the firm, rubbery tissue that coats the bone joints, called articular cartilage, becomes worn away. Cartilage enables the smooth movement of the joint, as well as providing a protective cushion to prevent the bones from rubbing together. Cartilage can repair itself to some extent, but it does not regenerate once lost. One of the first signs of osteoarthritis is often stiffness or pain in the joint.