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Physical Therapy for Hip Arthritis – Information, Exercises, and More

Popping, grinding, and occasional pain in your hip. 

You’ve been noticing the symptoms for months, but your doctor recently diagnosed the problem as hip arthritis.

Is there anything you can do to ease the pain and get back to your normal activities?

The answer is yes!

This guide provides information about arthritis of the hip and how physical therapy for hip arthritis can help ease your pain and get you back on track with everyday life.


What Is Hip Arthritis?

Hip arthritis occurs as the cartilage of the hip joint deteriorates — particularly at the head of the thigh bone and cup-shaped socket of the pelvis where the thigh bone fits into the joint 

Since this cartilage allows your hip bone to glide inside the socket of the joint as you move, when it is damaged or deteriorates, bone rubs against bone.

What Causes Hip Arthritis?

While there is no single cause of hip arthritis, there are several factors that may make you more prone to developing the disease, including:

  • Family history of arthritis
  • Aging
  • Previous injury to the hip joint
  • Obesity
  • Developmental dysplasia of the hip (improper formation of the hip joint at birth)

Even if you don’t have any of the above risk factors, it is still possible for you to develop arthritis.

Hip Arthritis Symptoms

The most common symptom of hip arthritis is pain. While the sudden onset of pain is possible, the discomfort usually develops slowly, worsening over time. 

Additional symptoms of arthritis may include:

  • Pain and stiffness that is worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting.
  • Pain in your groin or thigh that radiates to your knee or buttocks.
  • Stiffness in the hip joint that makes it difficult to bend or walk.
  • Pain that flares up with vigorous activity.
  • “Locking” or “sticking” of the joint.
  • Decreased range of motion in your hip that makes it hard to walk and may cause a limp.
  • Increased joint pain during rainy weather.
  • A grinding noise when you move (caused by loose fragments of cartilage and tissue that are interfering with the natural, smooth motion of your hip).

Hip Arthritis Treatment

Nonsurgical Treatment

The earliest treatment of arthritis of the hip is nonsurgical and may include options such as: 

  • Lifestyle modifications — Your physical therapist may recommend changes in your daily life that can protect your hip joint, slowing the progress of arthritis.
  • Minimizing activities that aggravate the condition — Some activities, such as climbing stairs, can aggravate the pain of arthritis. 
  • Choosing low-impact activities — Switching from high-impact activities (like jogging or pickleball) to lower-impact activities (like swimming or walking) puts less stress on your hip and can ease the pain of arthritis.
  • Losing weight — Weight loss can reduce stress on the hip joint, resulting in an increased range of motion and decreased pain.
  • Physical therapy — Your physical therapist will be able to prescribe a specialized exercise plan to help increase your range of motion and flexibility and strengthen the muscles in your hip and leg.
  • Assistive devices — The use of walking supports such as crutches, a cane, or a walker, can improve your mobility and independence. Assistive aids, such as a long-handled reacher, that makes it easier to pick up objects off the floor, will help you avoid movements that aggravate arthritis pain.
  • Medication — If the pain of arthritis is affecting your daily routine, or you don’t find relief through other nonsurgical methods, your doctor may suggest adding medication to your treatment plan. These may include: 
    • Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.
    • Corticosteroids, also known as cortisone.
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen.

Surgical Treatment

If your arthritis pain results in disability and does not improve with nonsurgical treatments, your doctor may recommend one of the following surgeries:

  • Total hip replacement — During this surgery, your doctor removes both the damaged femoral head and hip socket. They then position new ceramic, metal, or plastic joint surfaces to restore your hip function. 
  • Hip resurfacing — During this procedure, the damaged bone and cartilage in your hip socket are removed and replaced with a metal shell. The head of the femur is not removed but is instead capped with a smooth metal covering.
  • Osteotomy — In this rare hip replacement procedure, either the head of the socket or the thigh bone is cut and then realigned to remove pressure from the hip joint.

Will Physical Therapy Help With Arthritis in the Hips?


Research has shown that people affected by osteoarthritis, a form of hip arthritis, who participate in physical therapy exercises for arthritis in the hip report a reduction in both pain and stiffness in their hip joints and an increase in hip function.

What Is the Best Exercise for Arthritis in the Hips?

Your physical therapist will guide you to the best physical therapy exercises for hip arthritis, depending on the severity of your pain. 

Exercises may include things such as:

  • Straight leg raises to the inside
  • Straight leg raises to the outside
  • Bridging
  • Hip hikes
  • Standing quadriceps stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Clamshells

How In Motion O.C. Can Help With Hip Arthritis

If you are dealing with hip arthritis, the experienced team of physical therapists at In Motion O.C. is here to help.

Rated as the number one physical therapy clinic in the entire United States on Yelp!, we’ve helped hundreds of patients:

  • Regain their hip strength and range of motion 
  • Build confidence; and
  • Get back to enjoying their normal lives — pain-free 

And we have reviews and testimonials to prove it!

Give In Motion O.C. a call today to request a free screening and let us help you on your road to recovery from hip arthritis.


The content in this blog should not be used in place of direct medical advice/treatment and is solely for informational purposes.

In Motion O.C.