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  • Writer's pictureMr Simon Garrett

The Three Stages of Hip Osteoarthritis

Three stages of hip osteoarthritis

Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is a prevalent and often debilitating condition that affects the hip joint. It is characterized by the progressive degeneration of the hip joint's cartilage and surrounding structures. As hip OA advances, it undergoes distinct stages, each marked by specific changes within the hip joint. Understanding these stages is essential for diagnosis, treatment planning, and improving the quality of life for individuals with hip OA.

Learn all about the three stages of hip osteoarthritis 👇

Stage 1: Early Hip Osteoarthritis

Early hip osteoarthritis is the initial phase of joint degeneration. During this stage, changes in the hip joint are relatively subtle. Key characteristics of early hip OA include:

  • Intermittent Pain: Individuals may experience occasional hip pain, often described as a dull ache, especially after periods of physical activity.

  • Morning Stiffness: Mild morning stiffness is common, which usually improves with movement.

  • Slight Reduced Range of Motion: There may be a slight decrease in hip joint flexibility, but it doesn't significantly affect daily activities.

  • Occasional Discomfort: Discomfort may be present but is typically manageable.

Early hip OA can often be managed with conservative approaches such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain relievers. Weight management is particularly important during this stage.

Stage 2: Moderate Hip Osteoarthritis

Moderate hip OA represents a more advanced phase of joint degeneration. In this stage, symptoms become more noticeable and impactful:

  • Chronic Pain: Hip pain becomes more persistent and can occur during rest and physical activity.

  • Prolonged Morning Stiffness: Morning stiffness may last longer, affecting daily mobility.

  • Reduced Functionality: Hip joint function is significantly reduced, making daily activities more challenging.

  • Intermittent Instability: The hip may occasionally feel unstable or weak.

Medical intervention becomes more crucial in moderate hip OA. Treatment options may include prescription medications, corticosteroid injections for inflammation reduction, and physical therapy to enhance joint function. Assistive devices like hip braces or canes might be recommended to improve mobility.

Stage 3: Severe Hip Osteoarthritis

Severe hip osteoarthritis represents the advanced and most debilitating stage of hip joint degeneration. Key features of severe hip OA include:

  • Chronic and Severe Pain: Pain is constant and intense, significantly impacting daily life.

  • Extended Morning Stiffness: Morning stiffness can last for hours, severely limiting mobility.

  • Visible Deformity: Hip joint deformities, such as bone spurs or changes in joint shape, may become apparent.

  • Dramatic Reduction in Quality of Life: Severe hip OA can greatly reduce one's quality of life, impeding even basic activities.

In cases of severe hip OA, surgical interventions like hip replacement surgery are often considered. These procedures can provide substantial pain relief and restore joint function, offering a chance for a significantly improved quality of life.


Hip osteoarthritis progresses through three distinct stages, starting with early joint degeneration, progressing to moderate symptoms, and, ultimately, reaching severe joint damage. Recognising the stage of hip OA is crucial for tailoring effective management and treatment plans.

Early intervention with lifestyle adjustments, medications, and physical therapy can slow the progression of hip OA, providing a better quality of life for those affected. For individuals with advanced hip OA, surgical options like hip replacement surgery can offer significant pain relief and improved hip function, providing hope for a better future.

If you or someone you know is experiencing hip pain or stiffness, consulting a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment recommendations is the first step toward effectively managing hip osteoarthritis.

Speak to my friendly team to arrange an initial consultation to get you back on your feet as quickly and comfortably as possible.


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