Osteoarthritis and lifestyle changes explained

osteoarthritis and lifestyle changesOsteoarthritis is a condition that affects how your joints work, causes pain, stiffness and eventually even deformity of the joint. A joint affected by osteoarthritis begins to slowly degenerate as changes begin to occur to the cartilage that surrounds the joints.

The cartilage starts to become thinner and rougher in texture, while simultaneously the bone beneath begins to thicken. The tissues surrounding the joint recognise that something is wrong and begin to try and correct the issue, which causes more challenges for the troubled joint as the additional activity can cause the joint to swell.

Finally, the ligaments around the joint also react by beginning to thicken and harden – this is because they are trying to stabilise the joint. The net result is this can really impact on the mobility of the joint and can cause sufferers a lot of pain and discomfort.

In the orthopaedic community, it is widely agreed that osteoarthritis is a condition that can be influenced by lifestyle choices. There are many factors that can lead to the start of osteoarthritis, including poor diet and lack of regular exercise, but the good news is that if people understand these lifestyle choices and the repercussions that they can have on their joints further down the line, care can be taken earlier to mitigate against the risk of developing the condition.

Osteoarthritis is linked to how your body deals with calorie intake and overall level of exercise

According to research undertaken by Arthritis Research UK, there is a link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. The implication of this is that by improving your dietary choices and introducing more regular exercise into your weekly routine, this can have a significant positive impact in how possible it is to delay or prevent osteoarthritis from developing.

Those who have a poor diet – one that lacks balance and does not contain enough of the key vitamins, nutrients and minerals – are at risk of being more susceptible to developing conditions such as osteoarthritis that may not occur so readily in a healthier individual. Coupled with this, poor diet is often linked with a more sedentary lifestyle. When these conditions occur and the body is not given the optimum conditions needed to produce energy, it attempts to compensate by generating a greater amount of glucose (the body’s natural sugars). When this happens, the body also generates more lactic acid, which causes the cartilage around joints to become inflamed, experience restricted mobility and cause discomfort. This is the onset of osteoarthritis.

What can be done if osteoarthritis is too far advanced to address with diet and exercise changes?

If you are experiencing advanced osteoarthritis then you may wish to consider a replacement joint. The joint is replaced with man-made components, which is usually highly successful in relieving the pain of osteoarthritis. This is a significant operation, so is not a decision that should be taken lightly, however patients who have suffered from serious osteoarthritis are generally able to achieve a much higher quality of life if they opt for surgery to help address the issues affecting their joints.

It is important to arrange to see an orthopaedic specialist like Mr Simon Bridle sooner rather than later to establish whether or not surgery is your best option or if there are other lifestyle changes that should be explored first. He will be able to assess your condition and make recommendations for a treatment programme, aimed at tackling discomfort and lack of mobility, so you can enjoy optimal function.

There’s no place like home when recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery

Enhanced recovery programme after joint replacementWhen you have undergone a significant operation such as a hip or knee replacement it is important to give due thought and consideration to how you will approach the recovery period. The approach you take can have a real difference in terms of how quickly you heal and how successful your overall rehabilitation is.

It is widely accepted that the best place for recovery is within the comfort of your own home, with the support and encouragement of medical and care professionals and a supportive network of friends and family wherever possible.

Although not all patients are suitable, an enhanced recovery programme (ERP) has become the optimal care pathway for patients undergoing joint replacement surgery. This evidence-based approach aims to ensure that patients are fit and well enough to be discharged as soon as possible after having their operation as research has shown that this means a shorter recovery time. Mr Simon Bridle performs hip and knee replacements at the Fortius Joint Replacement Clinic at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital, where the approach to patient care is based on the principles of enhanced recovery.

Safe at home – with an interlocking network of support

In a recent report entitled ‘Getting it right first time’, the British Orthopaedic Association stresses that the best approach to effective patient rehabilitation appears to be where the patient and the medical, care and health professionals work collaboratively together: ‘the anecdotal information gathered at the many meetings held across the country suggested strongly that better outcomes appear linked to more successful working relationships’. So once the patient is back in their own home, it is important to ensure that all the care providers are clear about the chosen path to rehabilitation, as this will mean everyone is aligned in their approach.

The research behind these findings is extensive and during the study period, authors of the report claim to have ‘travelled 16,935 miles and met 1634 surgeons and 409 managers’.

Preparing your home for enhanced recovery programme

Recovering at home may require a few changes to ensure that your home is a suitable environment to aid in your rehabilitation. The Fortius team at the BUPA Cromwell will advise you about this at your pre-operative visit. Things the team will consider and advise about include:

  1. Physiotherapy / recommended exercise – do you have an area that is large enough (and safe enough; for example, no trip hazards, etc) to undertake the exercises required to build your muscles back up to strength?
  2. Caring for the wound / incision do you know what the warning signs are that you should look out for when caring for a healing wound? Troublesome signs can include pain, redness, swelling, an unusual smell. It’s important to know when to reach out to medical professionals if you suspect the wound is not healing as well as it should be.
  3. Adapting your home – it may be necessary to make small, medium or large modifications to your home to aid in your recovery. Depending on how long the expected recovery time is and how restricted you are in terms of mobility, making a few changes can make the world of difference to how independent you can be in the days, weeks and months after your operation.

Quitting smoking means better outcomes from hip replacement surgery

hip replacement successThe health risks of smoking are well documented, and thanks to clear warnings on packet labels and health service advertising campaigns, awareness of the dangers of smoking are better understood than they have ever been. Although the implications of smoking on the lungs and respiratory system are clearly understood, many people don’t realise that smoking can impact on many other areas of health and well-being. In fact, many people probably don’t realise that there could be a connection between smoking and hip replacement success.

Pioneering smoking research

According to new research undertaken by NYU (New York University) Langone, there is a link found between stopping smoking prior to hip replacement surgery and the overall success of the surgery. Although this research is yet to be corroborated by larger medical trials, the results are encouraging and support what many medical professionals already believe.

Patients who stopped smoking to enhance their recovery prospects saw a variety of benefits versus those who continued smoking. NYU Langone’s research concluded that “patients experienced better surgical outcomes and fewer adverse events including hospital readmissions, surgical site infections, and blood clots if they were enrolled in a smoking cessation program prior to surgery.”

The report suggests that merely suggesting that patients stop smoking is unlikely to be effective enough, it suggests that the real chance of success lies in offering a ‘smoking cessation’ programme to proactively and collaboratively help smokers quit ahead of their surgery.

Preparing for hip replacement success

Orthopaedic specialist Mr Simon Bridle supports the theory of this research and recommends that quitting smoking ahead of undergoing major surgery such as a hip replacement is likely to have a positive impact on the speed and quality of recovery.

There are in fact, several lifestyle changes that should be considered in order to make your recovery as good as possible. Eating more healthily is a good idea to improve overall health and nutrition, as it undertaking a regular programme of exercise. If you’re carrying more weight than is ideal for your frame then trying to lose a bit of weight is also sensible, as it will make overall mobility easier once you’re adapting to your new joint.

According to US company PeerWell, there is a handy checklist of six different things that you should consider setting up/undertaking before undergoing hip replacement surgery. This checklist is as follows:

  • Ensure you have support of family and friends – a network of available and willing helpers is crucial when you’re in the immediate recovery phase and are not yet as mobile as you will be when you’re fully recovered
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet – it is important to ensure your body is getting the right balance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • Exercise appropriately – ensuring that key muscle groups are worked out before and during recovery. Although everyone has heard of ‘rehabilitation’, the phrase ‘prehabilitation’ is being heard more and more at the moment. The theory of ‘pre-hab’ is that beginning an exercise regime to strengthen important muscles before surgery gives the body a head start on its recovery
  • Positive mental attitude – thinking positively and keeping a healthy frame of mind regarding your recovery is a great way to power through the early days and keep thinking ahead to the benefits your new hip will yield
  • “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – it is sensible to prepare your home for your recovery to give yourself less physical obstacles to overcome when moving around the home. Consider bulk preparing meals and freezing them too, so that some of the day to day tasks you will need to undertake are already taken care of.

Will leaving the EU affect hip replacement surgery in the UK?

hip replacement implants

Brexit has left many Britons with an air of uncertainty surrounding things where we have previously used products, labour or skills from other countries within Europe. The medical industry is no different, so it is important to help patients understand what, if anything, the effect that leaving the EU will have on their medical requirements.

Although some EU laws have received a bad press, others have been welcomed and the UK has benefitted from some legislation passed in EU courts. Regulation of medical ‘devices’ is one such law whereby revisions have been made that provide UK patients with a higher degree of safety than before it was amended. The law governing medical devices now places a higher level of regulation upon a vast range of items. ‘Devices’ in this sense is a broad term covering a wide variety of things which are given to patients to benefit from their health. This ranges from smaller items such as plasters, contact lenses and pregnancy tests, to high value items such as hip replacements, x-ray machines and pacemakers.

The aim of these enhanced regulations is to ensure a consistency with safety testing so that all EU citizens can be reassured regarding the medical devices they use or are fitted with. It also encourages ‘free and fair trade of the products throughout the EU’; meaning components are readily available from trusted suppliers.

These changes have been come about because of cases whereby non-regulated components have been used in devices such as breast implants and hip replacements, and the revised laws are designed to ensure this does not happen again.

Historical issues

Breast implants made by the company PIP are a well-known example of where old legislation failed the consumer. PIP manufactured its own silicone, rather than use the more expensive medically-approved silicone. The result was that thousands of women in the UK received implements containing potentially harmful chemicals, many of whom have had to have their implants removed or replaced as a result.

The same is true for hip replacements. A company called 3M fell foul of using components that were not as heavily regulated as they should have been. During the 1990’s they produced a copy of the widely used Charnley hip, which performed very badly and was more likely to come loose and need further re-work, compared with more rigorously tested alternatives. DePuy Orthopaedics developed a metal-on-metal joint replacement called an Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) which contained components that had not undergone the rigorous medical testing they should have done. The result here was that tiny fragments wore off the synthetic joint and entered the surrounding muscle and tissue, some even entered the bloodstream.

Necessary reassurance

The UK also has a National Joint Registry (NJR) and something called Beyond Compliance. The NJR records all hips implanted in England and Wales and identifies when they require revision, allowing surgeons to distinguish between different implants and choose designs with a low failure rate. Beyond Compliance allows new designs which are developed to be monitored before general release. Newly developed hip replacement implants are implanted in a controlled manner by selected centres, before general release. Beyond Compliance is “a service to support the safe and stepwise introduction of new or modified implantable medical devices.”

For patients who wish to undergo a hip replacement, be reassured that orthopaedic surgeons such as Mr Simon Bridle only operate using devices that have undergone the comprehensive medical testing required before these products are released to the EU marketplace. This will continue to be the case, regardless of the UK’s status within the EU.

Leading health think tank points to 90% rise in hip replacements

rise in hip replacementsWe hear a lot about medical treatments, practices and patient care in the news, and it doesn’t always come with a positive slant. This can be worrying for patients who are waiting for operations, and may result in them feeling anxious about what to expect.

The financial strain placed on the NHS is well documented, and those who are fighting for additional funding are quick to point out how financial deficits can impact on patient care. A recent report published by the King’s Fund looked at various types of operations and the associated patient care, with a view to assessing just how affected these areas are by the acknowledged funding issues. One of these areas was elective hip replacements, so we were interested to see what the findings yielded.

Findings of the King’s Fund report

The King’s Fund research analysed four key areas:

  1. Genito-urinary medicine (GUM),
  2. District nursing,
  3. Elective hip replacement and
  4. Neonatal services

The results were interesting and differed by area. There were indeed serious challenges faced by GUM and district nurses that the report was able to directly link to funding issues. Neonatal services were standing firm, with the report suggesting that they “appear to have largely maintained quality and access despite a number of longstanding pressures”. Finally, those opting for elective hip replacement surgery were found to be growing significantly in numbers, with patients consistently happy with the outcome of their operation.

This level of satisfaction is encouraging for anyone who is considering this type of operation, and probably due in part to the fact that hip replacements are one of the oldest types of surgery. The current approach to hip replacements dates back to techniques pioneered by surgeons in the 1960s, and they have been undertaken regularly since that time.

Looking into this further, the increase in patients seeking hip replacement operations hasn’t just increased a bit – the rise in hip replacements is massive. The report outlines that “despite funding pressures on England’s NHS, elective hip replacements increased by 90 per cent in the six years to 2016”.

Is it all good news for those waiting for hip replacements?

For orthopaedic surgeons such as Mr Bridle, it is encouraging to see that the report highlights just how happy the majority of patients are following their hip replacements; in fact they say that “patients are overwhelmingly happy with the outcome”. This high level of patient satisfaction is something that those working in orthopaedics are extremely proud of.

Despite this, the report outlined two areas that are a threat to the current system. Firstly, mounting pressures of other departments who work to support, or work in tandem with, orthopaedics put these departments at risk. Secondly, waiting times are increasing – no doubt due to the marked increase in demand.

This feeling of positively following hip replacements is well documented; in the March issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, the results of a recent study carried out by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic were published. Employing a standard Quality of Life measurement, the clinicians found that hip replacements can improve patients’ meaningful quality of life for at least five years following the operation.

At times of considerable financial pressure across the NHS, with satisfaction levels with this type of operation so high, if you are considering a hip replacement operation this knowledge should be reassuring and help put your mind at rest.

Issues with the spine found to affect success of hip replacement procedure

Increasing numbers of patients are requiring hip replacement surgery and they are one of the most successful operations of their kind, with evidence that the operation gives patients a marked improvement in their quality of life. As with all operations, there are clear risks and rewards that patients must understand before opting for surgery. With this in mind, surgeons are continually learning and exploring more and more about the factors that lead to successful – and less successful – outcomes. It is this process of continual knowledge development that helps push medical technology forwards.

With this in mind, surgeons are continually learning and exploring more and more about the factors that lead to successful – and less successful – outcomes. It is this process of continual knowledge development that helps push medical technology forwards.

spinal problems and hip replacement successWe are fortunate that across our own health service and those in some other countries around the world, there are opportunities to gather and analyse patient data, which can help identify trends and patterns in patient recovery. Results from data collected by the NYU Langone Medical Center/New York University School of Medicine indicate that those with spinal problems have greater issues with hip replacement recovery: “people with spinal deformity also requiring a total hip replacement are at greater risk for dislocation or follow-up revision surgery”.

What this means is that issues that would not usually be seen in the recovery period following a ‘normal’ hip replacement are more likely to present themselves in patients with spinal deformities. The recovery time is likely to be longer, there is a higher chance they will face more complex challenges and in the longer term they are more likely to have to undergo a second phase of surgery to correct a problem caused by the spinal abnormality.

Does that mean that people with spinal deformities are not suitable for total hip replacements?

The answer to this is no – people suffering a deformity of the spine would be classed as a higher risk category, a factor which should be flagged at consultation stage. With this knowledge of a pre-existing condition, the approach taken to their hip replacement surgery would just need to be more bespoke, and tailored more to the needs of the individual and their specific spinal complaint.

How different are the risks?

The study looked at over 100 individuals who had undergone almost 140 hip replacements (some individuals had both hips replaced). In this research sample, patients who had an underlying spinal abnormality demonstrated a greater risk that the new hip would become dislocated. The rate of dislocation was 8% in the group with spinal issues, compared with just 1% in patients without. Although both are small percentages when the total research population is considered, the difference between the two groups is significant.

The NHS in the UK is pushing for greater levels of ‘joined up care’ across the whole organisation, which is a more integrated way of managing patient care and rehabilitation. Findings such as this will mean that there will be a greater need for joined up working across orthopaedic and spinal units, ensuring that patients who are in a higher risk category get the more tailored care and support they require.

How do younger patients fare long term after hip replacement?

how do younger patients fare long term after hip replacement?When you’re considering a major operation such as a knee or hip replacement, the chances are you’re reading around the subject, considering where you might choose to have you operation, and looking at the different approaches favoured by different surgeons.

Knee and hip replacement specialist Mr Bridle favours the Exeter femoral stem approach to hip replacements, which is a cemented, polished tapered stem hip replacement. The polished finish has been shown to allow transfer of load from the stem to the cement and bone, allowing the cement to secure the component to the bone and preserving the bone density. The stem has a long pedigree, having been used since the 1960s. Its extensive use in the decades that have passed since it was first introduced, show that the Exeter system has proved itself to be durable and robust.

How do younger patients fare with joint replacements such as these?

One concern for younger patients is that once they have undergone a joint replacement operation, they are likely to put their new joint under more strain than if the operation was done in a more elderly patient.

Recent research published by the Bone and Joint Journal looks at the longevity of hips replaced in patients who were under 40 at the time that they underwent the operation using the cemented Exeter femoral system. The research looks at how they have fared up to 20 years post operatively.

The study shows a very low rate of loosening of the component, with very few patients requiring further operations’, it concludes that “the Exeter femoral component continues to function satisfactorily in young patients for up to 17 years after surgery”. These results compare very favourably with other systems, including cementless components.

Younger patients can be reassured that with advances such as this in joint replacement technology, and the wealth of experience of surgeons such as Mr Bridle, the longevity of joints that are replaced in younger patients is encouragingly good.

Cemented versus cementless stems in hip replacement

The stem in the thigh bone can be fixed with or without cement. If cement is not used, the bone needs to grow onto the component to fix it. Both these approaches do work. The data suggests there may be a higher early failure rate when cement is not used – there is a risk of breaking the femur putting the stem in and of the component not bonding, both of which would require further surgery. There is no evidence that patients function any differently in the longer term with cemented compared with cementless stemmed joints.

One of the reasons the Exeter system is favoured by surgeons such as Mr Bridle is the adaptability that the range of joint implants available offers to the surgeons, and ultimately the patient. This scope and flexibility is simply not available with most other hip replacement systems.

As with all elements of patient care, surgeons will make choices based on the best possible outcome for their patients. The anatomical diversity offered by the Exeter femoral stem system is why it continues to be Mr Bridle’s favoured approach. He understands the importance of ensuring these choices are made in perfect alignment with the patient’s needs, as this gives any new joint the best chance of improving quality of life.

Benefits of enhanced recovery after joint replacement surgery

benefits of enhanced recovery after joint replacementFollowing the results of an in-depth study of 4,500 patients in the recovery period following knee and hip replacement surgery, there is robust evidence to support the theory that an enhanced recovery plan is the best approach to a successful recovery.

What is enhanced recovery?

An enhanced recovery plan is one where patients will be recommended a multimodal approach, involving behavioural, pharmacological, and procedural modifications to the ‘standard’ approach to rehabilitation.

The research looked at 4,500 patients, 1,500 of whom were treated with the enhanced approach, while the remaining 3,000 had standard care. The results were positive, suggesting that the enhanced approach is likely to result in faster recovery, with fewer requirements for medical interventions following the surgery.

The areas where benefits to the patient were seen are as follows:

  • Length of hospital stay
  • Mortality
  • Perioperative complications (for example, the need for a blood transfusion following surgery)
  • Overall satisfaction felt by the patient regarding their experience and treatment

Collaborative working methods

We are hearing more and more about the benefits of different parts of the health care system working together, taking a joined up, more collaborative approach to patient care and recovery. This way of working is cited as being fundamental to the success of an enhanced recovery approach, as explained by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health “a prerequisite for the success of these techniques is a multidisciplinary collaboration between patients, surgeons, anaesthetists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nursing staff.” This approach to enhanced recovery is used widely across the NHS, with ambitious plans to continue pushing this until the health service is fully integrated by 2018.

As a result, the NHS is working effectively to improve recovery following joint replacement surgery. The challenge is to get processes like this working as well in private clinics, as this method (and ability to offer such joined up care and service) is currently inconsistent. Mr Simon Bridle favours this approach and recognises the benefits, so patients treated in his care will benefit from a multimodal design to their recovery plan.

As with all operations and the subsequent recovery process, the most important factor is the best possible rehabilitation for the patients. Getting them back to normal as soon as possible is of the utmost importance to medical professionals, whether working in the public or private sectors.

Fortius Joint Replacement Centre

Mr Bridle and his colleagues at Fortius Clinic have worked with the BUPA Cromwell Hospital to develop an evidence based Enhanced Recovery programme, based at the BUPA Cromwell, to ensure the best treatment and outcome for our patients.

As Mr Bridle will explain to any patient he is treating, an effective, multimodal rehabilitation plan and initiatives that reduce the risk of post-operative complications are at the forefront of his approach to patient care.

To find out more about the Fortius Joint Replacement Centre, please click here.

How to choose your joint replacement surgeon

How to choose your joint replacement surgeonWhen you’re considering joint replacement, it is important to choose the best surgeon for the job. So how do you go about this? You will first want to read around the procedure so that you fully understand what you’re signing up for, and then you’ll want to start researching where you can have the operation and exactly who will be responsible for undertaking it.

Look at the surgeon’s qualifications and professional memberships

Orthopaedic surgeons in the UK will have undergone full medical training and then an additional 4 to 5 years residency programme in an orthopaedic surgery. After this lengthy training period they will qualify as a junior orthopaedic surgeon and will begin practicing. Some surgeons will choose a subspecialty which they will focus on, and this will require a further one to two years training.

Obtaining membership of professional associations

Many professionals will also choose to join relevant professional membership organisations. Many will join these while studying and hold membership of different grades throughout their career.

Mr Bridle holds membership of two professional associations for joint replacement specialists, the British Hip Society and the British Orthopaedic Association. The British Hip Society promotes training, education and research to ensure the very best care for patients who are experiencing hip related conditions. Similarly, the British Orthopaedic Association offers care for patients and support for trauma and orthopaedic surgeons in the UK.

Membership organisations such as these offer services such as training, support and continued professional development (CPD). They also regulate their members to ensure a high quality of service provision. Orthopaedic surgeons such as Mr Bridle will typically list their professional memberships on their website, so when you’re researching surgeons, look out for the logos and feel free to look up the organisations to read more about what is expected and required of their members.

National Joint Registry

All hip and knee replacements in England are now recorded in this registry (the NJR). This allows analysis of how well different types of joint replacement and individual surgeons are performing. An individual surgeon report is published on an annual basis, to include the number of procedures performed, the type of implants used and some results. The surgeon is provided with an even more detailed analysis, to indicate how well patients are doing, to help them improve their practice. This represents an extremely important set of data to help improve quality.

Ready to book a joint replacement consultation?

Once you have done your research and think you’ve found a surgeon you are comfortable with, the next step is to book a consultation. This is an important opportunity to meet with the surgeon, get to know and to talk in detail about what is troubling you and what you would like to achieve. This is a great chance to ask all the questions you may have, so it is advisable to write a list so that you don’t forget anything important.

To give you an indication of the types of questions you might consider asking, these are some of the things patients will typically ask at a consultation:

  • How long have you been practicing for?
  • How many times have you performed the operation I am interested in?
  • Can I speak to any patients you have operated on previously?
  • What is your personal complication rate for procedures of this type
  • What options do I have for this procedure and which is best for me? And why?
  • How long will the operation take?
  • How long is the recovery process and what can I expect during this time?
  • When will I be able to go back to work?
  • When will I be able to drive?

For more information, or to book a consultation with London joint replacement specialist Simon Bridle, please contact us.

Bursitis or arthritis – what’s causing your hip pain?

Bursitis or arthritis - what's causing your hip pain?Aches and pains in the joints – particularly knees and hips – as you get older are something that we all expect and many of us choose to live with. Depending on the cause of hip pain, this is sometimes an acceptable choice, but more often than not it could be delaying treatment for a more serious condition.

With the amount of information available to read online, sometimes people will ‘self diagnose’ – and this can be risky. Sometimes even expert medical professionals can misdiagnose, so it clear to see that its very easy to make the wrong assessment when reading up online about what is causing your pain and discomfort. Often conditions share similar symptoms, and an expert assessment is required to ensure it is diagnosed correctly.

For people suffering with painful hip joints, two conditions that share similar symptoms are bursitis and arthritis.

Understanding bursitis

A bursa is a pocket of fluid, which helps lubricate movement when a tendon runs over a bone. Bursitis is the name given to a condition where this pocket of fluid becomes inflamed. This can occur when the area is exposed to unexpected pressure or repetitive stress.

When the bursa becomes inflamed, this causes pain and tenderness over the site of the bursa. In the hip the trochanteric bursa is most often involved and patients have pain over the side of the hip bone. Treatment is initially with physiotherapy and an exercise programme to strengthen the pelvic and core muscles and some patients will need a steroid injection.

Understanding osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs in around one in three people aged 45 and over, and in almost half of people aged 75 years and over. It is a degenerative disease which affects the joints by wearing and breaking down the cartilage around the joints. The hips and knees are often affected by this form of arthritis. If left untreated, it can completely wear away the cartilage around the joints, which is extremely painful and will have a significant impact on mobility.

Getting the correct hip pain diagnosis

When assessing hip pain, experts will be looking for clues to help with diagnosis. Things they will be considering are issues such as the specific area where pain is greatest (for example, bursitis often generates pain on the outside of the lower hip whereas osteoarthritis causes greater pain in the bottom, thigh, groin or actually within the centre of the hip itself).

Another thing they will be looking for is what generates the most pain. With bursitis the pain will feel worse when pressure is applied, for example lying on the side in bed, whereas with osteoarthritis the pain will tend to occur with weight bearing and hip movements. X rays are often helpful in identifying arthritic joints, whereas an MRI scan is likely to be needed to confirm bursitis

Seek an expert opinion

The important thing to remember is that if you’re experiencing any form of hip pain it is crucial to see a specialist sooner rather than later, to arrange the appropriate tests and investigations. The correct diagnosis of whatever is causing your hip discomfort is the first step on the road to treatment – and hopefully recovery. The longer you live with undiagnosed hip pain, the greater the risk that you will be doing more permanent damage to your joints, muscles or cartilage.

If you have discomfort in the hip area and have not yet seen a specialist, book an appointment to see a knee and hip replacement specialist like Mr Simon Bridle who will be able to assess your situation and recommend the most appropriate next steps.