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What Are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the hip can vary. Your first sign may be a bit of discomfort and stiffness in your groin, buttock or thigh when you wake up in the morning.

Commonly, there is a gradual increase of pain over the side of the hip into the groin, with pain down the front of the thigh and into the knee joint. Pain over the knee can be the main presenting symptom and the hip problem can therefore easily be overlooked. The pain is usually worse with activity, especially weight bearing activity such as walking. It can also feel worse with cold weather.

Loss of muscle strength and mobility is often seen, resulting in difficulty running or even walking. It is common to see a so-called flexion fixture of the hip, resulting in a very characteristic limp with the person unable to extend the thigh back. The feet tend to turn outwards due to restricted hip movement, so when cycling, the thigh and knee want to turn out. It also gets more difficult to squat down and put on socks and shoes. Rest is often found to relieve pain but not always. It depends on the level of inflammation and damage to the joint. Using a stick for support will usually help you to walk easier.

Chiropractic Examination and Osteoarthritis of the Hip

There is little evidence that structural changes of osteoarthritis can be changed or reversed, but some cases have been reported. But we know that chiropractic treatment will help you avoid unnecessary pain and disability and slow the progression of the disease.

Hence, delaying possible surgery or maybe even avoiding the need for it. Apart from examining the hip joint, it is important to include an examination of the back, knee, ankle and foot, as all these areas can influence the hip problem. Although the physical examination easily picks up the problem, an x-ray examination is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. The x-ray findings will also give a clearer picture of how severe the problem is. This will help the chiropractor to give an accurate prognosis, rule out other causes and help to select the most appropriate treatment.

How Can Chiropractic Treatment Help Osteoarthritis?

The aims of the treatment are to:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve movement of the joint
  • Relax painful muscle spasms
  • Strengthen weakened muscles
  • Lifestyle and exercise advice
  • Nutritional advice

The treatment will involve stretching and massage techniques to tight and tender muscles, gentle mobilisation techniques and manipulation of the affected joints and the use of ultrasound or interferential modalities. You will also be given exercises based on your personal need and fitness level.

Supervised exercise programmes have been shown to be far more effective than unsupervised programmes and we would therefore suggest that it should be your first

What if I need surgery?

Some cases of severe osteoarthritis may need to be referred for an orthopaedic opinion and may need surgery, but this should not necessarily be your first option.

Chiropractic treatment may help you delay any need for surgery and the earlier you receive treatment the more likely you are to benefit. However, should you need surgery, rehabilitation after surgery is important to strengthen your muscles and restore or maintain the flexibility of your hip and other related joints.

Any physical preparations you make before the surgery can affect both the outcome and your recovery time. It is also worth remembering that doing exercises to strengthen your upper body will help you cope better with crutches or a walker after surgery. If you familiarise yourself with postoperative exercises and practice them before the surgery, they will be easier to perform after the surgery.

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