Arthritis causes inflammation and pain in a person’s joints. When it affects a person’s hips, it can make walking and moving around difficult. Treatment may depend on the type of arthritis a person has.

With hip arthritis, the cartilage around the joint disintegrates, and the bones rub together. Cartilage is the connective tissue that covers the ends of bones and cushions the joints. It allows bones to glide over each other smoothly.

People with hip arthritis may have painful, stiff, and swollen joints. The pain may be on the inside or outside of the hip and may spread into the person’s groin, upper thigh, and buttock.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. A 2022 study estimates that hip arthritis accounts for around 27% of OA cases in the United States.

This article looks at the different types of hip arthritis and explains the treatments available. It also looks at lifestyle changes that may make living with arthritis easier.

A male in a lunge stretch.Share on Pinterest
Ales-A/Getty Images

The hip joint is a large, weight-bearing joint that helps support the body and enables the upper leg to move. Inside the joint, a person’s leg can move forward and backward as well as out to the side. It can also rotate inward and outward.

Hip arthritis damages the cartilage surrounding the bones, and this restricts a person’s range of movement.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) explains that the joint becomes stiff and painful. Other symptoms include:

  • pain in the groin, buttock, and outer thigh
  • pain spreading down the inside of the leg
  • difficulty bending
  • difficulty walking up and down stairs
  • limping
  • occasional pain on the inside of the knee
  • difficulty climbing in or out of a car
  • difficulty rising from a chair
  • pain at night that makes sleeping difficult or interrupted
  • a grinding or popping noise when moving, which doctors call crepitus

If hip arthritis limits a person’s movement, the muscles surrounding the joint can weaken and lose their ability to support the body’s weight.

The CDC explains that there are over 100 different types of arthritis, with OA being the most common type. Although specific symptoms vary between the types, most people with hip arthritis experience joint pain and stiffness.


Known as wear-and-tear arthritis, OA usually develops slowly and worsens over time. Many people find the pain and stiffness more noticeable in the mornings or after sitting for a while.

Some people with OA in the hip feel a sharp pain when bones rub against each other, while others experience a dull ache. OA of the hip usually affects just one side.

Learn about OA.

Rheumatoid arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation (AF), rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.

People with RA usually experience symptoms in both of their hips. They may also have a low fever and feel fatigued.

RA can affect other parts of a person’s body as well, including the eyes, heart, and lungs.

Learn about RA.

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a type of arthritis that starts in the spine but can spread to other parts of the body, including the hips.

The National Institute of Arthritis of Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) explains that lower back and hip pain is the most common symptom of AS. Over time, the pain spreads to other parts of the back.

Many people find that the pain is worse at night or during other periods of inactivity. Exercise and movement usually help the pain.

Learn about AS.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of arthritis that affects people with psoriasis. People with PsA of the hip may experience symptoms in one or both of their hips.

According to NIAMS, PsA can affect any joint in the body, making it stiff, swollen, and sore. People with PsA may also experience skin lesions and pitting on their nails.

Learn about PsA.

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is another autoimmune condition that can affect a person’s joints, skin, and other organs.

According to the Lupus Foundation of America, most people with lupus will experience arthritis in one or more of their joints, but lupus itself is not a form of arthritis. They also say that people with lupus who have arthritis are less likely to experience permanent joint damage than those with other types of arthritis.

Learn about SLE.

Doctors diagnose hip arthritis by talking with the person about their medical history and symptoms and conducting a physical exam. They will check if the person is experiencing pain around the hip and ask about any crepitus.

Doctors may also recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays and, occasionally, MRI scans or CT scans to check for damage to the bones and soft tissue, according to the AAOS.

Doctors may recommend seeing a rheumatologist if they suspect hip arthritis is due to an autoimmune condition. They may also take blood to test for markers of inflammatory arthritis.

Learn about blood tests for RA.

There is no cure for hip arthritis, but treatment may help prevent permanent joint damage, reduce pain, and improve a person’s quality of life. Possible treatments include:


Some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, including Tylenol (acetaminophen), may help manage the pain, according to the AF.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also target pain and reduce inflammation. These include aspirin and ibuprofen.

Doctors may prescribe other medications for different types of arthritis. For example, they may recommend disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics for people with RA.

Physical therapy

Certain exercises can increase a person’s range of movement and flexibility. A physical therapist can design an exercise plan for the individual and will aim to strengthen the muscles supporting the hip joint.

A physical therapist will also look at the person’s posture and how they walk. They will look at ways to improve this and reduce the strain on the hips.

Learn about how physical therapy can reduce arthritis pain.

Mobility aids

Physical therapists may also fit braces or splints to support the hips. According to the AF, some people find that walkers or canes help them move around, while grabbers can help pick things up.

Orthotics, or shoe inserts, may also help, the AF suggests.

Learn about mobility aids.


Depending on how damaged the hip joint is, doctors may recommend surgery, the AF explains. Types of surgery include:

  • arthroscopy, where doctors fix small tears in soft tissue or remove pieces of cartilage that have broken away
  • joint resurfacing, where doctors reshape and cap the top of the thigh bone and replace the socket joint with a metal cup
  • total joint replacement, where doctors replace the whole joint with a prosthetic implant

Learn about arthritis surgery.

Although there is no cure for arthritis, some lifestyle choices may help manage the symptoms, according to the CDC. These include:

  • Being physically active. The CDC recommends low impact exercises, such as swimming, cycling, and walking. They suggest starting slowly and building up.
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Hips are weight-bearing joints, so being a healthy weight reduces stress on them. Pilates and yoga may help.
  • Keeping a positive attitude. Some people find that spending time with loved ones distracts them from the pain, while others may enjoy taking time for their hobbies.
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
  • Talking with care providers about emotional reactions to hip arthritis and getting additional help if needed.
  • Taking medication as directed by a doctor.

The AF notes that while not all joint pain is arthritis, some types can cause permanent damage, so getting appropriate treatment is essential. They recommend seeing a doctor if hip joints:

  • are painful, swollen, and stiff
  • are tender and warm to the touch
  • make moving or doing daily activities difficult

The AF also recommends talking with a doctor if symptoms last longer than 3 days or if the person experiences symptoms several times within a month.

There is currently no cure for hip arthritis, but there are ways of slowing down its progression and managing the symptoms, the CDC advises.

Hip arthritis symptoms vary in severity from person to person. Some people have difficulty walking. In extreme cases, arthritis can permanently damage a person’s hips, and doctors may recommend hip replacement surgery.

The term “hip arthritis” covers many different conditions that damage the cartilage in a person’s hip joint. Some people experience severe symptoms that limit their ability to perform everyday tasks.

While there is no cure for arthritis, doctors can prescribe medications or recommend surgery to ease the symptoms.

Lifestyle changes may help, and mobility aids and devices, such as canes and grabbers, can help people maintain their independence.