Dealing with Osteoarthritis in Your Hips

Your doctor tells you that the chronic bone loss in your hips is what makes walking so painful. Osteoarthritis has set into your hip joints and it's not a disease that can be cured. You want to avoid hip replacement surgery for as long as possible. Here are a few ways to delay surgery and make walking less uncomfortable.

1. Lose Some Weight

This is one of the most effective ways to reduce your hip pain. Extra weight puts pressure on your hip joints and irritates the cartilage between the bones. Losing weight won't stop the disease but it will reduce your hip pain and slow the wearing down of your cartilage when you walk.

2. Alter Your Diet

Give your body a boost of vitamins and minerals necessary for the creation of new bone and cartilage. You'll slow down the destructive effects of osteoarthritis on your hips with these building blocks:

Calcium - Make sure you have plenty of calcium-rich dairy products in your diet. Yogurt, cheese, milk and cottage cheese are a good source of calcium. If you don't tolerate dairy products well, add almonds, broccoli and tofu to your diet to get an extra dose of calcium.

Vitamin D - This is needed for your body to process the calcium and is often found in the same calcium-rich foods. Look for foods marked as vitamin D enriched. Vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli contain large amounts of this vitamin. Spending a few minutes each day in the sun allows your body to produce its own vitamin D.

3. Start Doing Low-Impact Exercises

When you strengthen you leg and hip muscles, the joints will be more supported. The increased circulation in your hips from exercise promotes bone and cartilage growth. Stronger muscles keep your hips and knees in better alignment so you'll have less hip pain. Good low-impact exercises for your legs and hips include the exercise bike, treadmill and working with leg weights. Your orthopedic doctor can prescribe sessions with a physical therapist to get you started with the right exercises.

4. Wear Braces or Supports

As the osteoarthritis progresses, your hips and knees can go out of alignment. This places stress on your hip joints and pain when you walk. With some people, their knees bow out, giving that "bow-legged" appearance. Other people are "knock-kneed" where their legs bow in.

Your doctor can prescribe custom orthotics, such as shoe inserts or knee braces, to help maintain proper alignment of your legs and hips. These can give you some temporary relief from the hip and knee pain as you walk.

While these changes won't cure your osteoarthritis, they will slow down the bone and cartilage destruction in your hips and allow you to walk with less pain. Another benefit of losing weight, changing your diet and doing more exercise is that you'll be in better to shape to recover if you should require hip surgery someday. For assistance, talk to a professional like Orthopaedic Associates of Muskegon.