By Nick Nyman, Physiotherapist
Hip osteoarthritis unfortunately can be a common part of the ageing experience. Whilst we have limited ability to reverse the arthritis itself, there is lots that can be done in slowing its progression, limiting the pain felt and most importantly, maximising the day-to-day function from your hip.
Hands on Physiotherapy
Physiotherapy treatment including muscle release, joint mobilisation, dry needling, and other techniques can provide excellent short-term relief and help to work through flair ups of your arthritis. Physios are experts in the management of joint arthritis and can also discuss the overall management of your hip including exercise prescription, whole body factors impacting your pain, referral for imaging and referral to doctors should they be required.
Has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to alleviate pain and maximise function from your hip arthritis. Exercise should be enjoyable, relatively pain free and be a mix of endurance, control and strength based exercises. Clinical movement therapy (Clinical Pilates) is an excellent low impact option to improve specific control and strength related to your arthritis. The pilates will be paired with a home program to continue to progress your function and maintain the benefits of pilates.
Exercising in water can be used for arthritis that is too painful to tolerate land based exercise like walking. The hydrotherapy will help support the weight of your body and facilitate pain free movement in the pool which will lead to less pain day to day.
Weight has been highly associated with hip arthritis as both a risk factor for it developing and as a factor that increases how much pain you feel. If you are carrying a few extra kilos It is recommended that you aim to lose between 5% and 10% of your body weight to notice a significant reduction in your pain.
There are multiple whole body factors that have been shown to be risk factors for developing hip arthritis and increasing its progression. These include previous hip trauma, being overweight, being overweight in young adulthood, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption or having poorly managed diabetes. The proper management of these factors can lower your risk of developing hip arthritis and slow its progression.
For more advanced OA your physio or GP may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon for a second opinion. Hip operations such as total hip replacements can be effective at improving pain and function in more severe cases of arthritis. Hip replacements are rarely the first line of care as they are less effective in early arthritis and should rarely be considered without first trialling physiotherapy.
Supplementation & Medication
The latest Royal Australian College of GP recommendations for knee and hip arthritis recommends against the use of Glucosamine, Omega-3 fatty acids, Chondroitin, Vitamin D, Biophosphonates, viscosupplementation & calcitonin amongst other supplementations. Discuss with your GP if there are any medications that could help with your symptoms and facilitate your rehab.
The key with hip arthritis is creating an individualised management plan that addresses the whole person and not just the hip in isolation. This starts with a thorough assessment with a Physiotherapist who will guide you through all your available options.
To make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists, Click here, or call (08) 6389 2947.