Hip Conditions FAQs

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that joins the ball of the thigh bone (femur) to the socket of the pelvis (acetabulum). This joint is lined by cartilage known as the acetabular labrum that cushions the socket. Because the hip is a weight-bearing joint, it is subject to a number of ailments, such as strains and fractures, resulting from overuse, accidents and arthritic changes.

What is bursitis of the hip?

Bursitis is the painful swelling of the bursae, the fluid filled sacs that cushion the areas where tendons and muscles slide across bone. In trochanteric, or hip, bursitis, the bursa at the head of the femur is affected. When this shock-absorbing sac becomes inflamed, the condition is very painful. Trochanteric bursitis may occur as a result of gluteal tendon infections, uneven leg length or iliotibial band syndrome.

What is arthritis of the hip?

Arthritis is an erosion of cartilage, the tissue which normally cushions the joint. Arthritis is degenerative, leading to inflammation that results in pain and swelling. It usually occurs as a result of aging, but may also be the result of traumatic injury or autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. In severe cases, arthritis can cause bone deformity and serious disability.

What is osteoporosis of the hip?

Osteoporosis is a disorder in which the bone density of the hip decreases. The degeneration of osteoporosis leads to increasingly porous bones that become abnormally weak and can break easily. A milder form of this condition is known as osteopenia.

What is avascular necrosis of the hip?

Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, is a disorder in which the bone tissue dies because it does not receive enough blood. Necrosis results in small breaks that can eventually cause the bone to collapse entirely. It most commonly occurs in the hip. Necrosis may occur as a result of a fracture or dislocation, excessive alcohol use, extended use of corticosteroids, or certain diseases such as sickle cell anemia, diabetes, lupus or HIV. Medications taken for osteoporosis or bone cancer, and radiation therapy also increase the risk of a patient developing avascular necrosis.

What is a hip pointer?

A hip pointer is a bruise on the iliac crest of the hip bone, usually caused by a strong physical blow as may result from contact sports. This injury can cause bleeding of the hip abductor muscles, making leg movement painful. In most cases, the condition resolves in 4 to 6 weeks.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), refers to malformation of the hip joint resulting in misalignment. It can occur because of a problem within the ball (femoral head), the socket (acetabulum) or in both components of the joint. It is most commonly congenital or develops in the first few years of life. If diagnosed at birth or shortly thereafter, dysplasia can be successfully treated with bracing devices. When discovered later in life, the condition often requires surgery.

What is snapping hip syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome, or "dancer's hip" is a condition commonly affecting athletes and dancers. It involves a snapping sensation, often accompanied by a popping sound during movement. The snapping sensation occurs as a muscle or tendon in the area moves over a bony structure, most commonly the large jutting bone of the thigh (trochanter). Less frequently, snapping hip syndrome can be the result of torn cartilage or bone in the hip joint, known as a labral tear. While for some the condition is painless, for others, particularly those who are extremely active, it may lead to pain, weakness and disability.

Knee Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and it commonly affects the knees. Arthritis of the knee may develop as the cartilage protecting the bones of the knee joint wears down over time. Over the years, as stress is put on the joints, cartilage wears thin and sometimes even erodes completely, resulting in stiffness and pain. Arthritis of the knee occurs more frequently in older individuals, however it sometimes develops in athletes from overuse of the knee joint or after an injury.

Symptoms of arthritis of the knee may include pain, swelling and stiffness within the joint. Some individuals also experience a feeling of weakness in the knee that results in the knee locking or buckling. These symptoms tend to worsen after increased physical activity and as the condition progresses. Over time, as arthritis of the knee progresses, the knee joint becomes increasingly stiff and inflamed, difficult to move, and very painful, even when at rest.

To diagnose arthritis of the knee, a doctor will review all symptoms and perform a physical examination. X-rays and other imaging tests are often used to assess the amount of damage to the joint. Treatment for arthritis of the knee initially focuses on relieving pain and addressing symptoms and is commonly treated with a combination of methods. Avoiding certain physical activities that place stress on the knee may be helpful. Medication may also be used to treat pain and may include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Prescription pain relievers
  • Corticosteroid injections

Physical therapy may be a successful form of treatment for some patients. Severe cases of osteoarthritis of the knee may require surgery to reposition the bones or replace the joint. Most procedures can be performed through arthroscopy, which significantly reduces bleeding, scarring and recovery times.

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