What is Hip Osteoarthritis?
Hip osteoarthritis is the inflammation and wearing away of the cartilage of the hip joint, a condition that is more likely to develop as people age. It can develop at any age, although it is more commonly diagnosed in older adults. Osteoarthritis results when injury or inflammation in a joint causes the soft, shock-absorbing cartilage that lines and cushions the joint surfaces to break down. When the cartilage is damaged the joint can become painful and swollen. Over time, this condition can cause stiffness, muscle weakness, and increasing pain, leading to limited function.

There is no one reason to develop hip OA. The incidence of developing symptoms from hip OA increase with age and in people who have injured their hip in the past. The lifetime risk, the probability of developing symptomatic hip OA over the lifetime, is 25%.

Recent research found no difference in the rate of occurrence of hip OA in the general public based on race, gender, weight, or educational level.

More severe cases of hip OA may require hip joint replacement surgery. Whether or not patients have surgery, physiotherapists design specific exercise and treatment programs to manage pain and get people with hip OA moving again.

Signs and Symptoms

Hip OA may cause symptoms including:

  • Sharp, shooting pain or dull, achy pain in the hip, groin, thigh, knee, or buttocks
  • Stiffness in the hip joint, which is worse after sleeping or sitting
  • Weakness of the muscles in the lower extremity
  • A “crunching” sound when the hip joint is moved, caused by bone rubbing on bone
  • Difficulty and pain when getting out of bed, standing up from a sitting position, walking, or climbing stairs
  • Difficulty performing normal daily activities, such as putting on socks and shoes


Your physiotherapist at Alton Pain Clinic in Alton, Hampshire will conduct a full examination that includes your medical history and will ask you questions such as:

  • When and how frequently do you feel pain and/or stiffness?
  • What activities in your life are made difficult by this pain and stiffness?

Your physiotherapist will perform special tests to help determine whether you have hip OA, such as:

  • Gently moving your leg in all directions (range-of-motion test)
  • Asking you to resist as the physiotherapist tries to gently push your leg and hip in different directions (muscle-strength test)
  • Watching you walk to check for limping
  • Asking you to balance while standing (balance test)
  • Testing the mobility of the hip joint
  • Watching how you climb stairs, how you move from one position to another, etc.

Your physiotherapist may use additional tests to look for problems in other parts of your body, such as your lower back. The therapist may recommend that you consult with an orthopaedic specialist, who can order diagnostic testing such as an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm the diagnosis.