What Problems Affect Hip Cartilage?

Erin J. Hill

There are several problems that may affect hip cartilage, most of them involving either injury or a degenerative disease like arthritis. In many cases, symptoms can be managed, although full cartilage healing may not be possible depending on the severity of the condition or injury. For any hip cartilage problems, patients should see a physician for available treatment options.

Severe loss of cartilage might lead to hip replacement.
Severe loss of cartilage might lead to hip replacement.

Issues that may affect hip cartilage include sports injuries. Cartilage may become torn or stretched beyond its capacity. Injuries most likely will heal on their own if given enough time to rest. This means not engaging in any extreme movements or sporting events for several weeks, longer if possible. In some very severe cases, surgery may be required to repair torn cartilage.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to treat torn cartilage.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to treat torn cartilage.

The most common problems that affect hip cartilage include conditions such as arthritis, which slowly wear away the cartilage altogether. This is a chronic condition and there is currently no cure. Once hip cartilage has been depleted, there is no way to re-grow it. There are treatments available that may help alleviate or lessen the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, including over the counter and prescription medications as well as exercise.

To prevent problems involving hip cartilage, it is advised that those with a history of arthritis in their families or women over the age of 35 begin taking calcium and vitamin D to prevent bone loss, and other supplements like glucosamine, which may help prevent or slow down the progression of cartilage loss. There may also be medications available for those who are at very high risk. Injuries can usually be avoided by refraining from most contact sports and by stretching before any strenuous workout.

Those who are at high risk for developing arthritis should see his or her doctor at the first sign of symptoms to discuss potential treatment options. The less cartilage that is lost, the less pain a patient will likely experience. In very progressed stages of the condition, as well as in severe forms of injury, a full hip replacement may be needed. This is an operation in which an artificial hip is inserted to help prevent pain and stiffness associated with chronic conditions. In most cases, this is only used in those whose quality of life has severely suffered.

Most hip replacements are used as a last resort when medications have failed to alleviate symptoms. Studies are underway to find a way to help stimulate hip cartilage growth, and some promising results have been discovered. These emerging treatments are not yet available to the public and have not been sufficiently proven to rebuild damaged or worn away cartilage.

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Is there any product like Synvisc being tested in hips?

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