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Is My Hip Pain an Early Sign of Arthritis?

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As we get older, every morning begins to sound like a bowl full of Rice Krispies as our bones and joints snap, crackle, and pop. Occasionally, these creaking sounds are accompanied by pain in our hips, knees, and back. Even though you take care of your body through proper nutrition and exercise, age has a way of making mobility difficult. Especially for those suffering from osteoarthritis. This is your guide to understanding if that hip pain you experience is actually arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is defined as degenerative pain in your joints caused by general wear and tear. Within your joints, a tough rubbery tissue known as cartilage acts as a cushion between your bones. For instance, without cartilage, running or walking would be almost unbearable due to the pain of your femur bone colliding into your lower leg bones and pelvis. Over time, this cartilage becomes worn out with age and use. The increased friction of your bones leads to the joint becoming inflamed and painful.

Usually, arthritis affects your fingers, wrists, knees, ankles, and hips, but can sometimes affect the lower back as well. If you notice the symptoms and begin treatment of the condition early, you may be able to slow down or reduce the degeneration of the cartilage wear and pain. Here are a few signs to help you detect the condition early.

1. Pain and Tenderness

The number one most common symptom among those currently suffering from arthritis is pain, usually described as either an acute or aching pain, or simply tenderness in the affected joint. This pain may intensify when you move the joint in a certain way, or it may be present as an ache even at rest. Tenderness is defined as feeling discomfort when pressing on the joint, sometimes accompanied by swelling in more advanced stages of the condition.

2. Stiffness

While nearly everyone experiences some stiffness in the morning after first waking or after being still for a long time, it is also an early sign of arthritis. If your joints start feeling like they are less flexible and made of wood, you may be tempted to refrain from moving it. In fact, this may make the stiffness worse. Doing some gentle exercise and light stretching can increase the blood flow and provide relief from both the stiffness and the pain.

3. Unusual Sensations

As we discussed earlier, as the cartilage shock absorbers in your joints break down, the friction of bone on bone can cause a number of strange sensations. This may manifest itself as a grating, grinding, or cracking sensation that may even be audible.

4. Flexibility Loss

Often when people begin to develop arthritis, it may first manifest itself as a change in flexibility. This is different from stiffness, as stiffness usually improves after moving the affected joint. However, if you suddenly find that you do not have as much range of motion as you once did, you may want to see your doctor for diagnosis. This loss of flexibility degenerates gradually over time.

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