Osteoarthritis of the hip: a growing health problem

April 10, 2017
Pathologies Series

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report in 2015, osteoarthritis belongs to the larger group of musculoskeletal diseases, which generally affects 30% of the Australian population. Classified as one of the major chronic diseases in Australia, osteoarthritis affects 1.8 million individuals (8%) and is almost twice as frequent in women. It increases substantially in individuals over 45 years. 

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition caused by the erosion of joint cartilage, most commonly in the knee, spine, hip and hands. Osteoarthritis is associated with other chronic diseases in almost 80% of cases – most commonly cardiovascular conditions, followed by back pain and mental illness. Due to its complexity, osteoarthritis can be quite debilitating, compromising the quality of life and even a shortened lifespan.

There are a number of causes leading to osteoarthritis including our ageing population, a higher incidence of obesity and related muscle weakness putting pressure on all joints (including knee, hip spine), injuries sustained earlier in life resulting in progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage, intensive physical activities in younger sportswomen and men or occupational overuse, and finally the genetic predisposition in some people due to the abnormal anatomy of the joint (malalignment), mostly in the hip, which leads to cartilage damage over the years.

The past decades have witnessed an increased life expectancy, with a steady growth in the incidence of osteoarthritis, specifically in the knee and the hip including the consequent rise in joint replacement surgery. Such prosthetic surgery has a huge impact in improving the quality of life to the individuals, who as a result can resume physical activities and ameliorate their general health. However, an increasing prosthetic surgery, mostly performed in private clinics, impacts significantly on the expansion of health care cost. The financial burden suffered due to expenditures for diagnostics, treatment and hospitalisation amounted to AUD 1.6 billion in 2008-2009 (AIHW).

The pathology featured today: “Osteoarthritis of the hip” provides a detailed description of this frequent condition including the mechanisms of disease, causes, risk factors, methods of treatment and prevention.

Cristina Morganti Kossmann

A/Prof Morganti-Kossmann is a scientist with a career of 30 years in medical research achieved in leading academic institutions in Europe, USA and Australia. She is the cofounder of Lex Medicus Publishing and responsible for all educational activities disseminated through our website

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