There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, a disease that can make it difficult to do everyday activities because of joint pain and stiffness.
Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissues. It can affect several joints throughout the body at the same time, as well as many organs, such as the skin, eyes, and heart.
There are three types of inflammatory arthritis that most often cause symptoms in the hip joint:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Although there is no cure for inflammatory arthritis, there have been many advances in treatment, particularly in the development of new medications. Early diagnosis and treatment can help patients maintain mobility and function by preventing severe damage to the joint.
The exact cause of inflammatory arthritis is not known, although there is evidence that genetics plays a role in the development of some forms of the disease.
Inflammatory arthritis may cause general symptoms throughout the body, such as fever, loss of appetite and fatigue. A hip affected by inflammatory arthritis will feel painful and stiff. There are other symptoms, as well:
- A dull, aching pain in the groin, outer thigh, knee, or buttocks
- Pain that is worse in the morning or after sitting or resting for a while, but lessens with activity
- Increased pain and stiffness with vigorous activity
- Pain in the joint severe enough to cause a limp or make walking difficult
Although there is no cure for inflammatory arthritis, there are a number of treatment options that can help prevent joint destruction.
The treatment plan for managing your symptoms will depend upon your inflammatory disease. Most people find that some combination of treatment methods works best.
Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen may relieve pain and help reduce inflammation. NSAIDs are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms.
Corticosteroids. Medications like prednisone are potent anti-inflammatories. They can be taken by mouth, by injection, or used as creams that are applied directly to the skin.
Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs). These drugs act on the immune system to help slow the progression of disease. Methotrexate and sulfasalazine are commonly prescribed DMARDs.
Physical Therapy. Specific exercises may help increase the range of motion in your hip and strengthen the muscles that support the joint.
In addition, regular, moderate exercise may decrease stiffness and improve endurance. Swimming is a preferred exercise for people with ankylosing spondylitis because spinal motion may be limited.
Assistive Devices. Using a cane, walker, long-handled shoehorn, or reacher may make it easier for you to perform the tasks of daily living.
If nonsurgical treatments do not sufficiently relieve your pain, your doctor may recommend surgery.
The type of surgery performed depends on several factors, including:
- Your age
- Condition of the hip joint
- Which disease is causing your inflammatory arthritis
- Progression of the disease
The most common surgical procedures performed for inflammatory arthritis of the hip include total hip replacement and synovectomy.
Total Hip Replacement. Your orthopaedic surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and bone, and then position new metal or plastic joint surfaces to restore the function of your hip. Total hip replacement is often recommended for patients with rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis to relieve pain and improve range of motion.
Direct Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement (Arthroplasty).
The Direct Anterior Approach for total hip replacement is a tissue-sparing alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery that provides the potential for less pain, faster recovery and improved mobility because the muscle tissues are spared during the surgical procedure.