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Hip Osteoarthritis (Hip OA): what are the causes, symptoms, and what to do?

Updated: Mar 30

Arthritis is one of the most commonly spread causes of hip pain. Several types of arthritis impact hips and one of them is osteoarthritis. Hip osteoarthritis or Hip OA, in short, is a type of “inflammation in joints.” Let’s open more about what hip OA is, the causes, symptoms, and what to do if you were diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hip.

The hip is one of the largest joints we have. Osteoarthritis causes pain in hip joints and challenges daily activities like bending, walking, standing and sitting. As any type of arthritis is a gradually worsening condition, early treatment is necessary to lessen the impact on your life.

Osteoarthritis is the “arthritis of the bone.” It is widespread – it affects Canadians more than all other types of arthritis combined. There is no cure for arthritis (including osteoarthritis of the hip) for now. However, symptoms can be managed to support the lifestyle, reduce the impact of pain.

What are the causes of hip OA?

As we mentioned above, not only osteoarthritis but other types of arthritis may cause pain and damage to hip joints. That includes:

  1. Osteoarthritis

  2. Rheumatoid arthritis

  3. Ankylosing spondylitis

  4. Systemic lupus erythematosus

  5. Psoriatic arthritis

As in all kinds of arthritis, there is no one exact cause of hip osteoarthritis. However, the following reason may increase the chance of hip OA:

  1. Family with osteoarthritis history

  2. Increasing age

  3. Hip Injury- may happen long before the condition progresses

  4. Obesity

  5. Hip joints may improperly form at the birth, which is called developmental dysplasia of the hip

The fact that you don’t have any of the above factors does not guarantee you from having hip osteoarthritis.


Hip osteoarthritis may affect people in different ways. However, there are common symptoms like stiffness in the morning, joint pain, aching. Try to recognize early signs to begin treatment before the condition progresses. Arthritis Canada suggests the following early signs:

  1. Joint stiffness

  2. Joint pain

  3. Fatigue

  4. Joint swelling

  5. Joint dysfunction – Hip Dysfunction- you may have difficulty in daily activities like getting out of the car, standing from chair.

  6. Joint instability

  7. Pain sensitization

  8. Sleep disruption

  9. Altered mood

What to do if you are diagnosed with hip osteoarthritis?

There is no cure for any type of arthritis, but you can ease your life with some adjustments and symptom treatment. Non-surgical treatment includes lifestyle modifications,  physiotherapy, medications, and assistive devices.

Lifestyle Modifications

  1. Minimize activities that multiply the pain. An example is climbing stairs.

  2. Move from high-impact activities like running, tennis to low-impact exercises like swimming or cycling. We have a separate blog post on how aqua therapy helps to manage pain and improve the condition. Water is the best environment for exercising because it takes away most of the weight that causes joint pain during exercise.

  3. Lose weight if possible. Extra weight increases pain in joints.


  1. As in aqua therapy, physical therapy includes specific activities that differ from regular exercise. Here at Hydroactive, we design specific exercises for each patient based on their needs and conditions under treatment. Physical therapy helps with pain relief, balance improvement, mobility and overall muscle strength. As muscles strengthen, flexibility increases in the hip and other damaged areas.


  1. Your doctor may prescribe pain relief medications if other treatment methods do not help, and you struggle to continue daily activities.

Assistive devices

  1. Usually include walking support or support to pick up low-lying things.

Final thoughts

Do not ignore early signs in the hip or other areas of your body. If pain or discomfort continues, ask your doctor or physical therapist. As in all chronic conditions, hip osteoarthritis is easy to manage if the treatment begins in the early development stage.

Here at Hydroactive, we are ready to help you by free assessment by our professional certified physical therapists.

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