Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip is a degenerative joint disease that primarily affects the cartilage in the hip joint. Cartilage is a smooth, flexible tissue that cushions the bones and allows them to move easily. In OA of the hip, the cartilage in the joint gradually wears away, causing the bones to rub against each other. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in the hip joint. Over time, the bones may also develop growths called bone spurs, which can further limit joint movement and cause more pain. Osteoarthritis of the hip is a common condition, particularly in older adults, and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Causes of Osteoarthritis of the Hip

The exact cause of osteoarthritis of the hip is not fully understood. However, it is believed to develop as a result of a combination of factors, including:

Age: The risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip increases with age.

Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis of the hip.

Genetics: There may be a genetic component to the development of osteoarthritis of the hip, as it tends to run in families.

Joint injury: A previous injury or trauma to the hip joint may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis later in life.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the stress on the hip joint, leading to the development of osteoarthritis.

Joint deformities: Congenital hip abnormalities or developmental dysplasia of the hip can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip.

Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or avascular necrosis, may also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip.

It is important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip, not everyone with these risk factors will develop the condition, and there may be other contributing factors as well.

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis of the Hip

The signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip can vary from person to person but may include:

  • Pain: The most common symptom of hip osteoarthritis is pain in the hip joint. The pain may be dull or sharp and can be felt in the groin, thigh, or buttocks. The pain is often worse with activity and may improve with rest.
  • Stiffness: The hip joint may feel stiff, especially after sitting or sleeping for a long period of time.
  • Reduced range of motion: The hip joint may not move as freely as it used to, and you may feel a limited range of motion.
  • Clicking or popping sounds: You may hear clicking or popping sounds in the hip joint when you move.
  • Weakness: The muscles around the hip joint may become weaker over time, which can lead to difficulty with activities such as walking or climbing stairs.
  • Swelling: In some cases, the hip joint may become swollen or tender to the touch.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to see a healthcare professional for an evaluation and appropriate treatment. Early intervention can help manage symptoms and slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the hip.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip. The goal of physiotherapy is to reduce pain, improve mobility and function, and help maintain independence. Some physiotherapy treatments that may be used for osteoarthritis of the hip include:

Exercise: Physiotherapists can prescribe exercises to improve hip range of motion, strength, and stability. They may also recommend low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, or walking to maintain overall fitness.

Manual therapy: This can include techniques such as joint mobilization or manipulation to help reduce pain and improve hip joint mobility.

Education: Education on joint protection and lifestyle modification, such as weight management, is an important aspect of physiotherapy for osteoarthritis of the hip.

Assistive devices: Depending on the level of disability and functional limitations, assistive devices such as a cane or walker can be prescribed.

Heat or cold therapy: Applying heat or cold to the hip joint can help reduce pain and stiffness.

TENS therapy: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses a small device to stimulate the nerves and can be helpful in reducing pain.

Aquatic therapy: Aquatic therapy or hydrotherapy can provide a low-impact environment for exercise and improve hip joint mobility.

Your physiotherapist can design a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and goals. It is important to continue with physiotherapy even after symptoms improve to prevent the progression of osteoarthritis of the hip and maintain optimal hip joint health.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about osteoarthritis of the hip please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Takasaki, H., Okuwaki, T., & Miyamoto, N. (2021). A randomized controlled trial of home-based physiotherapy for hip osteoarthritis: The effect of an individualized exercise program on pain and physical function. Journal of Physical Therapy Science

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