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What Are the Signs of Elderly Arthritis in The Hips?

Article by Daniel Westhead Daniel Westhead Sure Safe Alarms

Although any part of the body can be affected by arthritis – including the shoulders and knees – it often begins in the hips. This is partly because we use the big ball-and-socket joint every day, so it's susceptible to deterioration.

If you or an elderly loved one has recently noticed an increase in pain, you're in the right place. Keep reading as we share several signs of hip arthritis to watch out for. Plus, we'll answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for any disorder that causes joint pain and swelling, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. The NHS predicts over 10 million people in the UK live with the condition, making it one of the country's leading disabilities.

The most prevalent type of hip arthritis is osteoarthritis, also known as wear and tear arthritis. It usually develops in weight-bearing joints over a person's lifetime. The second most common form is rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike osteoarthritis, it’s an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body.

Usually, joints are covered with articular cartilage and synovium – thin layers of slippery tissue and membrane that protect and lubricate bones for smooth movement. Arthritis gradually breaks down both, causing discomfort and grinding.

Many people with late-stage arthritis require additional support, including at-home carers and personal safety alarms with fall detection. The latter are especially handy in emergencies. If you accidentally stumble and can't access a telephone, we'll automatically connect you to a SureSafe operator, family member or friend.

What is the average age for hip arthritis?

Who's most likely to suffer from hip arthritis? Age is the biggest risk factor, so senior citizens are most often affected. This is because the older you are, the more time the cartilage has had to deteriorate. Plus, women are disproportionately affected. Rapidly declining estrogen brought on by the menopause causes joint pain and stiffness.

Other causes include:

  • Weight – excess weight puts more pressure on vulnerable joints
  • Injury – fractures and tears are precursors to hip arthritis
  • Repetitive movements – including sitting, squatting and bending
  • Family history – autoimmune arthritis may be genetic
  • Underlying conditions – some diseases and deficiencies trigger hip arthritis

What does elderly arthritis in the hip feel like?

Hip arthritis feels different depending on the severity and a person's pain tolerance.

Early-stage hip arthritis doesn't usually impact daily activities, but you might notice some mild discomfort after sitting down for too long. As the disease progresses, the pain intensifies until it becomes difficult to get around safely. You might notice sharp, stabbing or burning sensations in and around the hip and glute area.

Arthritis isn't curable, but you can live independently with the right resources. Digital alarms give you extra peace of mind whether at home or out and about. The clever technology monitors your movements, detects falls and contacts your loved ones in emergencies.

Five hip arthritis symptoms

It's crucial to keep a close eye on the signs of hip arthritis so you and your doctor can devise an effective treatment plan. Remember, not all pain indicates arthritis. If you're unsure, ask your healthcare provider about diagnostic tests. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • Pain in or around the hip
  • Bone spurs
  • Cracking and crunching
  • Loss of mobility
  • Mood disorders

Pain in or around the hip

One of the most obvious hip arthritis symptoms is pain in the lower extremities. Sometimes, it's confined to the hip. Other times, it radiates outwards towards the lower back, bum and legs.

Usually, you'll notice the pain is worse after periods of inactivity or certain movements, like walking or cycling. Understanding your unique triggers is important so you can avoid them where possible.

Bone spurs

When bones rub and grind, little lumps called bone spurs form on the ends. While they aren't initially noticeable, they can cause trouble further down the line. Depending on the placement, they might restrict mobility. In extreme cases, they compress nerves and trigger sciatic pain.

Doctors often recommend surgery when bone spurs grow out of control. Alternatively, physiotherapy, chirotherapy and gentle exercise can restore flexibility and strength in the affected areas.

Cracking and crunching

Another sign of hip arthritis is a crunching, grinding sound when you move, also known as crepitus. Without the lubrication between joints, bones don't slide over one another as smoothly. Additionally, you might notice locking or sticking. While this usually only lasts a few seconds, it can still be uncomfortable.

Loss of mobility

Of course, all the above leads to loss of mobility. You'll probably find it much harder to complete everyday tasks like showering, dressing and gardening. If symptoms progress, you might need mobility aids like walking sticks and wheelchairs.

If your hip arthritis reaches this stage, you could be entitled to financial support. Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment help cover the cost of carers and specialist equipment.

Mood disorders

Finally, many patients report mood fluctuations. Some become depressed because they can't do the things they used to love. Others suffer from anxiety when they think about their future.

If you're struggling with emotional wellbeing, we suggest contacting your doctor for support. There are plenty of complementary therapies, charities and groups out there specifically for people with hip arthritis.

What is the best treatment for arthritic hips?

Hip arthritis isn't curable or reversible. Instead, treatments focus on preventing further deterioration and improving quality of life. The type of approach depends on how far the disease has progressed. Healthcare professionals might suggest:

  • Lifestyle changes – such as losing weight and exercising more.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications – the type depends on the type of arthritis.
  • Steroid injections – a short-term solution that reduces swelling.
  • Mobility aids – walking sticks and scooters help people get around.
  • Surgery – hip replacements are a last resort for people with late-stage arthritis.

Live confidently with a SureSafe Alarm

Although living with hip arthritis symptoms is challenging, you can improve your quality of life with the right support. Instead of giving up your independence, invest in a SureSafe Alarm. We have plenty of options to suit every situation and budget.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our professional, friendly team today on 0808 109 4093, request a call back or use our live chat.

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