Synergy Health Partners

Rheumatoid Arthritis in the Hip


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that primarily affects the joints, causing inflammation, pain, and eventual joint damage. While RA commonly affects the small joints in the hands and feet, it can also involve larger joints, such as the hips. When RA affects the hip joints, it can significantly impact mobility and quality of life.


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium, the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. The exact cause of RA is unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development:

  • Genetics: A family history of RA increases the risk.
  • Environmental Factors: Smoking, certain infections, and possibly environmental pollutants may trigger the onset of RA.
  • Hormonal Factors: Hormonal changes, particularly in women, may play a role in the development of RA.


When RA affects the hip joints, symptoms can include:

  • Pain: Persistent or intermittent pain in the groin, outer thigh, or buttocks.
  • Stiffness: Morning stiffness lasting more than 30 minutes or after periods of inactivity.
  • Swelling: Swelling and tenderness in the hip joint.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the hip joint, leading to a limited range of motion.
  • Fatigue: General fatigue and malaise, common in systemic autoimmune diseases.
  • Bilateral Involvement: RA often affects both hips symmetrically, although it can be more pronounced on one side.


Diagnosis of RA in the hip involves a comprehensive evaluation, including:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms, family history, and physical examination to check for joint tenderness, swelling, and range of motion.
  • Laboratory Tests:
    • Rheumatoid Factor (RF): An antibody found in many people with RA.
    • Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide (Anti-CCP) Antibodies: More specific for RA.
    • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) and C-Reactive Protein (CRP): Indicators of inflammation.
  • Imaging Studies:
    • X-rays: To assess joint damage and erosion.
    • MRI or Ultrasound: To detect early joint changes and inflammation in the soft tissues and synovium.


Treatment for RA in the hip aims to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent joint damage. Options include:

  • Medications:

    • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): To reduce pain and inflammation.
    • Corticosteroids: For short-term relief of severe inflammation.
    • Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): To slow disease progression (e.g., methotrexate, sulfasalazine).
    • Biologic Agents: Target specific components of the immune system (e.g., TNF inhibitors, IL-6 inhibitors).
    • JAK Inhibitors: Oral medications that target specific pathways involved in the immune response.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to improve joint flexibility, strength, and overall function. Aquatic therapy can be particularly beneficial for reducing stress on the hip joints.

  • Lifestyle Modifications:

    • Regular Exercise: Low-impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or walking.
    • Healthy Diet: Anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on the hip joints.
  • Surgical Treatment: In cases of severe joint damage or when conservative treatments are ineffective, surgical options may include:

    • Total Hip Replacement (Arthroplasty): Replacement of the damaged hip joint with an artificial implant.
    • Synovectomy: Removal of the inflamed synovial tissue.


The prognosis for RA in the hip varies depending on the severity of the disease and the effectiveness of treatment. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can help manage symptoms, prevent joint damage, and maintain function. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan are essential for optimal outcomes.


There is no known way to prevent RA, but early diagnosis and treatment can help manage the condition and prevent complications. Reducing risk factors, such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, may also help.


Rheumatoid arthritis in the hip is a challenging condition that requires comprehensive management to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent joint damage. If you experience persistent hip pain, stiffness, or other symptoms suggestive of RA, seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan. With appropriate care, individuals with RA can achieve improved quality of life and maintain mobility.