First of all, what is osteoarthritis? This is a term commonly used by orthopedic doctors and physical therapists, but what does it refer to? Osteo means bone, and arthritis means inflammation in the joint. This condition is also referred to degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” on the joint. Osteoarthritis is often unavoidable because our joints are under constant stress as we go through our daily activities. Stress to our joints is healthy because it facilitates bone growth and remodeling, however, when our joints become worn out, symptoms can begin to occur such as pain and limited mobility. Living with decreased mobility and pain is not healthy because it can severely impact our daily function and even prevent individuals from participating in the activities that they enjoy.

If you are someone who is experiencing hip pain, physical therapy can aid in reducing those uncomfortable symptoms in your hip and allow you to increase your function. The hip is a common area that can undergo wear and tear and result in pain if not addressed. Hip osteoarthritis affects many individuals and often results in a significant reduction in mobility which can result in pain during recreational activities, prolonged walking and sitting.

A study examining the effects of conservative treatment for hip osteoarthritis compared manual therapy to a clinical exercise program in the management of hip osteoarthritis. Results found that both manual therapy and exercise therapy resulted in improved outcomes in daily function. Exercise therapy resulted in both long term and short term improvements in pain and physical function for individuals with hip osteoarthritis. Manual therapy was beneficial in reducing pain and improving function in the short term. This study provided evidence for the benefit of conservative treatment for individuals with hip osteoarthritis.

Physical therapy will allow individuals to undergo an evaluation to determine the factors causing limitations in the hip. Treatment will include both manual therapy and an individualized exercise program to reduce pain and improve function. A physical therapist can help you develop an individualized exercise program that fits into your daily schedule to help you manage your symptoms. Often the incorporation of strengthening activities can aid in supporting the hip joint, in addition to education on which exercises and activities to avoid that may increase the wear on tear on the joint.

Conservative treatment, including manual therapy and exercise, is not the only option for the treatment of hip osteoarthritis. Some individuals consider injections, and in severe cases surgery. It is important to discuss the most appropriate option for you with your physician.

Clin Rehabil. 2016 Dec;30(12):1141-1155. Epub 2015 Dec 22.