Can Physio Help An Arthritic Hip?

Yes! Physio can help you if you have an arthritic hip. There are however, a few points of clarification that are worth relaying to you. Typically the type of arthritis one develops in the hip joint is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the product of wear and tear of the joint surfaces of your hip joint. Your hip joint is a ball and socket joint that has a 3-4mm lining of cartilage covering the articulating surfaces of the “ball” and “socket” components of your hip. When these layers of cartilage wear away, a particular set of symptoms emerge (pain, stiffness). An x-ray of your hip confirms the presence of cartilage wear and tear.

Your diagnosis is usually categorized in terms of the degree of cartilage loss that has occurred. In cases where there is complete loss of cartilage at the joint surfaces, and there are unrelenting symptoms, the best course of treatment may be surgery. Total Hip Replacement Surgery is very common nowadays. Usually though, a surgeon won’t want to operate on your hip until you have exhausted more conservative treatment options such Physiotherapy. For more mild cases, Physiotherapy may be all that is required to resolve your symptoms and look after your hip into the future.

How can Physio help my Arthritic Hip?

In order to understand how Physio can help your hip, it’s important to have an understanding of how an arthritic hip becomes painful and symptomatic. Your can read about that here. Put simply, the pain and stiffness you feel from your arthritic hip is not only a consequence of cartilage wear and tear at the joint surfaces. We know this is true because there are plenty of examples of patients who have no hip pain, despite having x-rays that demonstrate significant losses of cartilage from with the hip joints. The other factors that must be considered is the sensitivity of the nerve pathways that relay information about your hip back up to your brain, and the protective guarding of muscles in and around the hip region.

If the sensory pathways have become abnormally sensitive, it is likely that your hip joint will not tolerate a great deal of load or strain. It is also likely that your muscles will be “idling” at a high level of protective tension. The tension of your muscles and sensitivity of nerve pathways can form a type of positive feedback loop that can keep your hip in a symptomatic state. The good news though, is that the sensitivity of these nerve pathways is changeable, as is the state of tension of your muscles. This means that even if your hip has advanced signs of cartilage wear and tear, it is possible that your symptoms may be relieved, perhaps even resolved by treatments that aim to dial down this nerve ending and nerve pathway sensitivity. Typically, improvements in symptoms follow on from treatment  that includes a combination of education / problem framingactivity modificationjoint mobilisationmassage, mobility exercises and graded strength and conditioning interventions. 

To find out, call us on 9665 9667. We can discuss your symptoms and determine whether or not it would be useful for you to drop into the clinic for an assessment of your spine. If you already think we can help you, feel free to book an appointment online.

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