What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a medical term that means joint inflammation.  The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which has a strong genetic component and involves painful and progressive loss of surface cartilage.  Other common forms of arthritis include:

  • Inflammatory or autoimmune (i.e. rheumatoid, lupus, psoriatic)

  • Gout and pseudo-gout

  • Septic or infectious


The hallmarks of osteoarthritis include asymmetric cartilage loss, bone spur formation, cyst formation, and progressive stiffness and deformity of the joint.  To read more about the different types of arthritis please visit


How is arthritis diagnosed?

Arthritis is diagnosed by combining clinical symptoms (pain, stiffness, swelling, deformity) with radiographic (x-ray) findings (joint space loss, bone spur formation, cysts).  Occasionally, patients will present with radiographic evidence of arthritis and have minimal clinical symptoms.  Even if the x-rays show “bone-on-bone” arthritis, the treatment is always guided by the clinical symptoms and not the radiographic findings.

See Radiographic characteristics of arthritis versus a normal joint, where the joint space is preserved and no bone spurs or cysts are seen.


What is the treatment for hip arthritis?

There are many different treatment options for hip arthritis, all of which aim to reduce pain and improve function.  Conservative treatment options include:

  • Use of anti-inflammatory medication (i.e. ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen)

  • Use of a cane, walker, or other ambulatory aid

  • Weight loss when appropriate

  • Low-impact physical therapy for muscle strengthening and conditioning

  • Various injections aiming to reduce joint inflammation and prevent further cartilage deterioration (Please see PRP section)


When these measures fail to provide sufficient pain relief, the next step is to discuss surgery.  The most reliable way to definitively treat severe hip arthritis is through a hip replacement or Hip Resurfacing.  Patients with mild arthritis may have other less invasive treatment options available to them, including PRP injections and minimally invasive hip arthroscopy.  These joint preserving options provide good short to medium term (2 – 5 year) relief and may enable you to maintain a high level of activity. 




Normal looking hip joints with good joint space between the femoral head and the acetabulum
Left hip joint shows narrowing of the joint's space indicating early degenerative changes 
right hip joint presents with end stage bone on bone osteoarthritis