Arthritis’ or ‘Osteoarthritis’ is a degenerative condition of the joints that leads to severe pain and loss of function at that joint. In simple words, arthritis occurs when there is damage to the smooth covering surface normally present in the joints, known as ‘articular cartilage’ . As this normal smooth surface (articular cartilage) has limited capacity to heal or regenerate, any damage to the cartilage is permanent and leads to arthritis.
Various causes of hip arthritis are age related wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis, ‘avascular necrosis’ of the hip etc. ‘Avascular necrosis’ means death of the head of femur bone because of loss of blood supply. Sickle cell disease, alcohol consumption, prolonged treatment with medicines called as steroids, fracture of the hip etc are most common causes of avascular necrosis of the hip joint. Even though in India, arthritis of the knees is more common than the arthritis of the hip, in Central India especially around Nagpur region, there is higher prevalence of hip arthritis because of sickle cell disease.
Hip and knee are the most significant joints that are affected by arthritis. Every time we perform our day to day activities like walking, standing, getting up from a chair or bed etc all our body weight is always transmitted through our hip & knee joints. Therefore in patients with arthritis of hip and knee there is severe pain even in normal day to day activities. There can also be shortening of the lower limb. Pain leads to restriction of activity and loss of freedom leading to disability (handicap) and dependence. Patients having advanced arthritis cannot do simple activities like walking, sitting, getting up from a seat due to pain. As the disease progresses, they cannot go outside the confines of the four walls of their home even for simple activities like shopping, buying milk or vegetables. In the advanced stages of arthritis even household activities like going to toilet, cleaning, washing, wearing socks or tying shoe laces evoke pain leading to serious disability and dependence on others like spouse, family members, servants or neighbours.
Various treatment options available for hip arthritis include pain-killer medications and joint preserving surgeries in the early stages. In the advanced stages only a hip joint replacement can help the patient get relief from pain and regain normal movement. Hip joint replacement is so effective and popular surgery all over the world that, in an online poll hip replacement was voted as the single most significant medical discovery of the 20th century.