Can Physiotherapy help Hip Osteoarthritis (OA)?
The answer is a definite yes.
Physios are one of the main professionals to help people in the early stages of hip osteoarthritis (OA). They can provide you with the correct information and the best exercises to help manage your symptoms.
What is hip osteoarthritis (OA)?
Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition that is most common in the lower limb joints, such as knee, hip and ankle.
The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the thigh bone attaches to the pelvis. The ends of the bones are covered with articular cartilage.
Articular cartilage is smooth and allows movement. In osteoarthritis, the surface becomes frayed and worn, affecting the movement of the joint.
What causes hip OA?
Obesity and a history of joint trauma can be causes for this condition.
There can also be a genetic (or hereditary) link.
However anyone can develop osteoarthritis in a joint at any stage, despite their body-type and history.
What are the symptoms of hip OA?
The first symptom is usually stiffness in the hip joint and restriction when walking, particularly when taking longer strides, or pivoting and turning on the leg.
Pain in the groin, thigh, and buttock is common. There can also be some referred pain into the knee.
Pain and stiffness is often more pronounced upon first getting out of bed in the morning. It then slowly improves as you get moving and active.
How is hip OA diagnosed?
An X-ray is the best way to correctly diagnose hip OA. The usual findings on an X-ray is a narrowing of the space in the joint and sometimes some small bumps around the bone as it changes over time to adapt to the joint space.
This, combined with typical OA symptoms such as morning stiffness and ache, gives us the clinical diagnosis of osteoarthritis.
Physiotherapists have a collection of tests we perform, which we can use to help identify some signs of hip OA. They can also help identify the contributing factors of the condition, which is really important for correct exercise prescription and symptom management
What are the best hip OA treatments?
Physiotherapy (conservative management) is initially recommended in most cases.
A Physio can help settle acute symptoms with the use of manual therapy and dry needling. However, the main form of treatment is activity modification and an exercise program. Our Physios are great at giving specific advice, and prescribing the right type and amount of exercise to help you strengthen the muscles of your hip and manage your symptoms better. Some simple exercises to do in the initial stages are:
Technique: Push through your heels and lift bottom up off the ground. Return to the starting positions
Amount: 10 reps x 3 sets to begin with
Sit to stand:
Evidence suggests that consistent resistance based exercise is the best way to help manage symptoms of OA, therefore we aim to give these exercises to all of our patients with hip OA. We also run OA group classes where you are supervised by one of our Exercise Physiologists as you go through an individualised, resistance-based program in our gym! We have had some fantastic results from a lot of our clients so far and are looking forward to helping more people in the future. Please follow the link below to hear Stephen, one of our Exercise Physiologists, talk about our OA classes!
Unfortunately, you can’t reverse hip OA but you can usually manage the symptoms to the point where it doesn’t stop you from doing the things that you love.
If you think that you could benefit from Physio for your hip, or would like further information on our OA classes, please get in touch with us on 1300 189 289 and ask to speak to one of our Physiotherapists – we are happy to chat about how we can help.
Reviewed and updated in March 2019 by Michael.
Michael works at our Payneham clinic and has a special interest in all lower limb rehabilitation.