What Causes Early Onset of Hip Osteoarthritis?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the expert

I am 22 years old and suffer from osteoarthritis affecting both hips.  I have been involved in alot of basketball and this could be a contributing factor to my degenerative joints.

My doctor has advised me to stop playing sports as high impact would very detrimental.  I use to play 7 days a week, and now play 1 day a week because it is extremely hard to stop playing altogether.

My arthritis is rated at moderately advanced, I take glucosamine and chondroitin, I experience low pain, only increased when aggravated.  What is your opinion?  I would appreciate hearing from you and thank you for your time.

Doctor's response

For hip joints to have degeneration of the cartilage of the third decade of life is not normal.  That is, it is not the usual scenario of osteoarthritis (whereby cartilage softens and wears with advanced aging).  Osteoarthritis of such a degree is not common before the fifth decade of life.

Persons who have significant degeneration of the hips at this young age should have a work-up for causes of premature degenerative arthritis.  Possibilities include design (birth) defects in the hip joints, metabolism problems, and various forms of inflammatory arthritis such as spondyloarthropathies (e.g.; spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis).  Some of these other causes of hip arthritis may have treatments that have not been considered to date.  I suggest further evaluation of your condition.  You and your doctor might consider consulting a medical specialist in arthritis, a rheumatologist.

Thank you for your question.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018