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What can go wrong with your hip?

Problems start in the hip when the cartilage covering both surfaces is damaged or wears out. When this happens, patients usually experience pain and stiffness and a reduced ability to walk before having to stop. Pain is felt deep in the hip and often in the buttock or thigh. However, for some patients, stiffness and reduced mobility can be more of an issue than pain.

The majority of people attending an orthopaedic department with a hip concern suffer from unavoidable age-related 'wear and tear' known as osteoarthritis. In very rare cases this can be due to excessive use rather than just a factor of age.

In some patients, pain is experienced in the hip which may be referred from other areas such as the back.

Reduced joint space in an arthritic hip (left) compared to normal

Though much less common, there are other conditions that can result in problems in the hip:

  • Autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, where the body reacts against its own cartilage. Patients with rheumatoid and other autoimmune arthritises are usually aware of their condition before it affects the hip joint.
  • Previous damage to the cartilage from trauma or an accident.
  • Developmental problems in the hip, usually DDH (developmental dysplasia of the hip) and Perthes disease. In both disorders the joint fails to develop properly from birth and similarly is a condition that the patient is aware of before they start experiencing problems.
Treatment for hip problems

Hip surgery

Miss Muirhead-Allwood is renowned for her expertise in the three main types of hip surgery.

Patient support

A highly dedicated team of professionals at the London Hip Unit offer patients a unique level of support and advice, from information about their surgery to suggestions about how to manage at home.