The Loss of Articular Cartilage

Osteoarthritis is a very common condition affecting the hip and is the most common reason for requiring hip surgery.

The underlying problem with hip osteoarthritis is loss of the articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is specialised cartilage which covers the ends of the bones providing an extremely smooth, low friction surface which allows the hip joint to move.

When the cartilage wears out in arthritis, the bare ends of the bone come in contact causing pain. Spurs (also called osteophytes) and cysts can form as a result of this. This can cause stiffness of the hip as well as pain.

There is no treatment that can regenerate the cartilage once it has worn out. A number of different treatments have been proposed to replace the cartilage but none of them have worked.

In the early stages of osteoarthritis the pain can be treated with paracetamol and simple anti-inflammatory drugs. 

In more advanced stages, hip replacement surgery is the only treatment available.