Your hip is a ball and socket joint. The ‘ball’ is at the top of your thigh bone (femur) and moves smoothly in the ‘socket’ in your pelvis.

A smooth cartilage layer is found on the bones where they meet. This helps to protect them and give a smooth surface to help movement.

In osteoarthritis, wear and tear can cause this smooth cartilage to gradually roughen and become thinner.

Osteoarthritis in the hip is seen more commonly as you get older and it usually starts from the late 40s onwards.


  • Pain - this occurs when the cartilage becomes more worn out. Often worse when standing or moving the joint. The pain is most likely to be felt deep at the front of your groin. Pain may also be felt at the side or front of your thigh, in your buttock or down to you knee in the form of referred pain.
  • Stiffness – this occurs as the joint capsule and ligaments around the hip starts to stiffen up due to the reduced mobility or the bony spurs caused by the osteoarthritis.
  • Grating or grinding sensation (crepitus)
  • Swelling (soft or hard)


The exact cause of osteoarthritis is not yet understood. Some risk factors have however been identified:

  • Age – hip osteoarthritis is more common the older you are, especially from your late 40s onwards
  • Weight – being overweight puts more strain on your joints and so increases wear and tear
  • Genetics – runs in some families
  • Occupation – physically demanding jobs increase wear and tear in the joint
  • Previous joint injury or abnormal hip development in childhood increases your risk.


A range of treatments may help to manage your symptoms but will not cure your osteoarthritis. These include:

  • Physiotherapy – exercise and strengthening exercises
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Painkillers: paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines should be used with guidance from your general practitioner or pharmacist.
  • Steroid injection

For those whose symptoms can no longer be managed through non-surgical methods, partial or total hip replacement surgery is offered.