What Does Arthritis in Hip Feel Like?

The hip is a ball and socket joint. The “ball” of your hip is your top thigh bone. It sits in a socket that is made by part of your pelvic bones. The bone surface is covered by a slippery substance called cartilage. This helps to cushion the joint and creates a comfortable environment that allows you to move freely and without pain.

You can lose the cartilage that cushions your bones when you have arthritis in your hip. As a result of this degeneration, you can feel pain and inflammation. “Arthritis can be caused by wear-and-tear, or an immune response, which causes the cartilage to become thinner or wear away,” Jonathan M. Vigdorchik MD, hip- and knee surgeon at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. It’s similar to the treads on a tire. The treads become thinner as you use them more.

Everyday tasks such as tying a shoe or getting up from a chair to go for a walk, become more difficult and downright painful.

The immune system misunderstands the protective lining of your joints called the synovium and damages cartilage. Although RA is more common in smaller joints (such as your hands and feet), it can also affect your hips. Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the cartilage in your hip joints gradually wears down. This causes pain, stiffness, and mobility problems.

Arthritis symptoms in the hip

Hip arthritis can be characterized by the following symptoms:

Pain in the hip joint can include pain in the outer thigh, buttocks, or groin.

The inside of the leg radiates pain

A few times, you may feel some pain in the knees.

“Locking” and “sticking” to the hip joint

When you move, grinding noise (also known as crepitus) is caused by fragments of cartilage or other tissue that block the motion of your joint.

Walking difficulty or walking distances that are less

Walking with a limp is not a good idea. Friends and loved ones may be able to see the limp.

It is difficult to climb or descend stairs

It is difficult to get in and out of a vehicle

It is difficult to bend over and put on socks or shoes.

Sleeping difficulties or night terrors

Exercise or prolonged vigorous activity can make the pain worse

Stiffness in the hips or a reduced/decreased range of motion (ex. can’t cross-legged).

The ability to perform everyday activities is limited

Pain is temporary. As it progresses, the good days diminish, and the bad days increase.

The affected leg may be shorter

Arthritis Types That Affect Hips

It is important to know the type of arthritis that may be affecting your hips. Each type of arthritis can require its own treatment and medications. Here are some common forms of arthritis that affect the hips.


Osteoarthritis, the most common form of hip arthritis, is the leading cause. Osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that cushions the joints’ ends wears down slowly. Osteoarthritis is often caused by normal wear and tear of a joint due to age, but it can also be caused by injury to the joint. Although osteoarthritis of the hips can occur at any age, the risk of developing it is approximately 25%. However, many people will only experience mild symptoms. Neal Birnbaum MD, a rheumatologist and former president of the American College of Rheumatology, founded Pacific Rheumatology Associates Medical Group, San Francisco.

Hip involvement is common with axSpA. Studies suggest that it can affect as many as 20-30 percent of patients. It can also be very disabling. Research shows that hip symptoms in axSpA could indicate more severe disease or increase the likelihood of developing bone problems over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. This causes inflammation, stiffness, stiffness, and pain in many joints. RA is most common in the hands and feet. However, it can also affect the knees, elbows, and hips.

Although RA is usually viewed as symmetrical and affects both hips simultaneously, it can also affect both sides of the body at different times.

How Arthritis in Hips is Diagnosed

Your medical history is taken and a physical examination of the hip is done to diagnose arthritis in your hips. The doctor will examine your hips to determine where you are in pain, how you can move them (how severely it is affected), and what the range of motion is. Dr. Vigdorchik observes patients walking to evaluate their gait. He says, “If they are tilting their bodies over the hip that hurts that hurts that’s their body’s reaction to making it hurt less.”

Your doctor will ask you questions to confirm that your hip pain is not caused by another condition. Pain from arthritis in the hip can also be caused by other conditions, such as a hernia and pinched nerves in the back.

The spine and hips can be examined by X-rays to determine if there are any problems and where the pain is coming from. These X-rays can show signs of arthritis such as:

The bones may be weakened or eroded

Loss of shared space

Fluid in excess

Dr. Vigdorchik says that you may need additional imaging such as an MRI, CT scan or a CT scan to see a better picture if the X-rays aren’t clear enough.

Your doctor may order blood tests to confirm that your hip pain is caused by inflammatory arthritis.

How to treat hip arthritis

The type of arthritis you have will determine the treatment options for your hips. The first step in treatment is usually non-surgical and conservative.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),

Pain and swelling can be relieved by over-the-counter medicines like naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (“Advil”), as well as prescription NSAIDs. Although many NSAIDs can be purchased over-the-counter, side effects such as stomach ulcers, elevated heart attack risk, kidney problems, and increased heart attack risk may occur, especially if taken long-term or in high doses. To reduce stiffness and pain in osteoarthritis, NSAIDs should be used as a first-line treatment. They are often used as a first-line treatment in axial spondyloarthritis.

Inflammatory arthritis is characterized by the use of NSAIDs in conjunction with other medications to reduce inflammation, pain, swelling, and pain.


Mild to moderate pain can be managed with analgesics such as acetaminophen. Analgesics can be used to relieve pain. NSAIDs treat both inflammation and pain. These may be prescribed for those who are unable to take NSAIDs because of their medical history. They can be used as directed and are a great choice for those with arthritis that causes pain but does not cause inflammation.

Steroid injections

Injections with steroid medication may be used to treat or relieve inflammation. These require ultrasound guidance or X-ray guidance. A few shots can be administered in the hip, (both hips can also be done simultaneously), and provide temporary pain relief and inflammation reduction. It is best to only inject the same joint a few times per year. More frequent injections can cause cartilage damage.

This article was written by Car Accident Doctors at Florida Medical Pain Management. Florida Medical Pain Management is proud to offer comprehensive pain management services to a diverse group of patients. Patients at Florida Medical Pain Management can get help managing hip, knee, leg, and neck pain. The practice also offers comprehensive arthritis management, along with treatments for auto accidents, sports, and work injuries.