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Hip Arthritis

    Hip Arthritis

    Hip pain can have many causes, one of which is arthritis, a condition in which the joint's protective cartilage surfaces break down and deteriorate.  The layer of cartilage that coats the surfaces of the ball and socket of our hip joints is very important.  Cartilage is extremely slick and slippery, providing a low friction bearing for easy and efficient joint motion.  It is also one of the few tissues in the human body that has no nerves in it, so it is completely numb.  Beneath this thin layer of cartilage is bone.  Bone is not slick and slippery, but rather rough and abrasive, and, unlike cartilage, is full of sensitive nerve fibers (think of the last time you had work done on your teeth).  In arthritis, the numb, slick protective layer of cartilage is damaged by either "wear and tear" (osteoarthritis) or a misguided immune system (rheumatoid arthritis).  The destruction of surface cartilage results in areas on the ball and socket of exposed bone, making the joint stiff and painful.  The thickness of the layer of cartilage in the hip joint is usually easy to measure with a simple X-ray, making arthritis one of the easiest conditions to diagnose in an office evaluation.  If the cartilage is completely gone, and the joint is "bone on bone" a hip replacement operation is offer a very effective solution.  Because of it's ability to relieve the pain of arthritis and it's low complication rate, hip replacement surgery has extremely high patient satisfaction scores.