Osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee occurs when inflammation and injury to a joint cause a breaking down of cartilage tissue. In turn, that breakdown causes pain, swelling, and deformity.
Cartilage is the firm, rubbery material that covers the ends of bones in normal joints, primarily made up of water and proteins. The primary function of cartilage is to reduce friction in the joints and serve as a “shock absorber.” The shock-absorbing quality of normal cartilage comes from its ability to change shape when compressed. It can do this because of its high water content. Although cartilage may undergo some repair when damaged, the body does not grow new cartilage after it is injured.
The changes in osteoarthritis usually occur slowly over many years. There are, though, occasional exceptions.
Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. The pain can be stabbing and sharp or it can be a dull ache, and the hip is often stiff. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
Treatments goals are to reduce pain, slowing down the progression of the disease, and preventing fractures. Appropriate treatment will depend on factors such as age, gender, injury history, and risk of fractures. Your doctor will put in place a customized treatment plan for you based on these factors. The treatment plan may include: