A Simple Guide to Hip Osteoarthritis


About Hip Osteoarthritis (OA)?

Osteoarthritis is the most common musculoskeletal condition in the world. At the hip joint it causes increased pain and stiffness restricting a client’s functional capacity. It is most commonly experienced by adults over the age of 60 and has an increased prevalence in clients that have a history of previous hip injury.


Anatomy of Hip OA?

The hip joint is comprised of a number of structures that facilitate smooth movement and force transmission. In hip OA these mechanisms are compromised due to abnormal mechanical stress or an abnormal biochemical environment. This leads to degeneration at the joint and the initiation of a local inflammatory response.


Clinical features of OA?

Subjective findings of clients with Hip OA may include:

  • Groin pain/stiffness
  • Deep buttock pain/stiffness
  • Pain with walking, stairs, squatting, running
  • Morning stiffness
  • Metabolic diseases


Objective findings of clients with Hip OA may include

  • Movement restriction
  • Reduced strength and muscle atrophy
  • Pain in weight baring


Management of hip OA?

When hip OA is suspected by clinical findings further investigation may be required in the form of a scan or input from a client’s General Practitioner. In advanced cases a surgical opinion may be required based on a client’s functional limitations and scan results. In the early stages of physiotherapy, the area will be unloaded and modalities to relieve symptoms will be employed. This may include but is not limited to behavioural modification, education, medications, joint mobilisation and exercise prescription.


Rehabilitation of hip OA?

As soon as practicable rehabilitation of the affected area will begin. In hip OA this will often be directed towards improving client’s functional limitations caused by the pathology. To do so manual therapy and exercises will be used to improve joint mobility, strength and control. This will be accompanied by ongoing education about how to optimise client’s potential and quality of living. As the capacity of the hip improves clients are reintegrated into physical activity and guided towards meeting their active goals.

Dylan Barnaby
Dylan Barnaby
Principal Physiotherapist (APA) B. Physio Dylan has gained broad experience treating patients with a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. After two years of providing player support to AFL clubs travelling to Perth, Dylan is continuing his work with the Gold Coast Suns as a Melbourne based trainer.