Inflammatory arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissues. It can affect several joints throughout the body at the same time, as well as many organs, such as the skin, eyes, and heart.
There are three types of inflammatory arthritis that most often cause symptoms in the hip joint:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Although there is no cure for inflammatory arthritis, there have been many advances in treatment, particularly in the development of new medications. Early diagnosis and treatment can help patients maintain mobility and function by preventing severe damage to the joint.
The most common form of arthritis in the hip is osteoarthritis — the “wear-and-tear” arthritis that damages cartilage over time, typically causing painful symptoms in people after they reach middle age. Unlike osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis affects people of all ages, often showing signs in early adulthood.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium thickens, swells, and produces chemical substances that attack and destroy the articular cartilage covering the bone. Rheumatoid arthritis often involves the same joint on both sides of the body, so both hips may be affected.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammation of the spine that most often causes lower back pain and stiffness. It may affect other joints, as well, including the hip.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Systemic lupus erythematosus can cause inflammation in any part of the body, and most often affects the joints, skin, and nervous system. The disease occurs in young adult women in the majority of cases.
People with systemic lupus erythematosus have a higher incidence of osteonecrosis of the hip, a disease that causes bone cells to die, weakens bone structure, and leads to disabling arthritis.