Is a loss of hip range of motion in arthritis important? We see two types of hip arthritis patients-the first has preserved range of motion of the hip and the second and more common patient type has lost almost all hip range of motion (ROM). Our concern is that patients who have already lost much of their hip ROM are less likely to be helped by stem cell injections into the joint. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint with a small area where 1/2 the weight of the entire body is supported. A normal hip with good range of motion distributes that weight over a large surface area, with any one spot not getting too much force. A hip with poor range of motion on the other hand, can’t distribute the weight to all of the joint, but instead has more force on one smaller part of the joint. This excessive force causes more lost cartilage in that one area. This is supported by a study that demonstrated more swelling in the femur bone on MRI of hip patients with poor range of motion. If you have hip arthritis, what can you do to prevent lost range of motion?
-Use it or loose it-Make sure that you perform hip range of motion exercises everyday
-If you’re having trouble putting on your socks, be concerned! You need good external rotation of your hip to do this activity. If you’ve lost this amount of hip range of motion, consider seeing a Rolfer or Physical Therapist to work on getting it back.
–Avoid steroid shots, which will injure the remaining cartilage. Instead consider getting a Hyaluronic Acid injection (artificial lubricant), as it won’t negatively impact a future stem cell injection but may help the joint feel better while you work on hip ROM
The upshot? Be careful about loosing hip ROM, as it’s very hard to get back. If you feel yourself loosing important range in the hip, then aggressively work with your local medical providers to “hold that line”!