Hip Osteoarthritis
Hip osteoarthritis. Click to enlarge

The exact cause of hip osteoarthritis is unknown. What is known is that most people with hip osteoarthritis exhibit at least one of the risk factors listed below.

    Advanced age. Over a lifetime, the hips experience wear and tear and cartilage thins and becomes less flexible. Symptoms of hip osteoarthritis can begin at any age, but most often begin at age 45 or later. Most frequently, people affected by hip osteoarthritis are in their 60s and 70s.

    Heredity and congenital defects and disease. The CDC estimates that 50% of hip arthritis is influenced by heredity.8,9 But this figure does not necessarily mean that 50% of all hip osteoarthritis cases are inherited. Rather, some people may inherit characteristics or diseases that eventually lead to osteoarthritis. Examples include poor bone alignment, congenital hip dislocation, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders such as gout, and more.

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    Joint trauma or injury. Joint trauma such as a broken hip or surgery can lead to symptoms of hip osteoarthritis years or even decades later. Athletes who participate in years of direct impact sports (e.g. hockey, football) are also at an increased risk of developing hip osteoarthritis.

    Gender. Hip osteoarthritis is more prevalent in women. The CDC sites a population study reporting that in people over the age of 45:

    • 8.3% of men experience symptoms of hip osteoarthritis, and
    • 11.3% of women experience symptoms of hip osteoarthritis10.

    Excess weight. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the hip bears six pounds of pressure for every pound gained. Therefore, even an extra 10 pounds, over the course of many years, can add significantly to the wear and tear on a hip joint.11

    Unlike knee osteoarthritis, the relationship between obesity and hip osteoarthritis is not definitive. Some experts suggest that obesity may not cause the onset of hip osteoarthritis but simply accelerates its progression.12,13

The risk factors above increase a person’s chance of developing hip osteoarthritis but do not guarantee it. Conversely, those who have none of the risk factors may still develop hip osteoarthritis.

References:

  1. Felson DT, Zhang Y. “An update on the epidemiology of knee and hip osteoarthritis with a view to prevention.” Arthritis and Rheumatism, 1998;41(8):1343–1355.
  2. Felson DT. “Risk factors for osteoarthritis.” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 2004;427S:S16–S2.
  3. See Full References
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Written by Andrew Cole, MD
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