Hip osteoarthritis: Risk factors

Hip: Risk factors

The risk factors presented below are the most frequently observed for osteoarthritis of the hip. However, they should not be regarded as systematic. Each individual is different, as is their environment (such as occupation, leisure time activities, sports, etc.), hence these risk factors do not exist in all individuals. Only your doctor can advise you about your own personal risk factors regarding osteoarthritis.


The most common risk factors are:

  •  Being overweight is a risk factor especially in women and after the menopause
  •  Architectural abnormalities
  •  Joint trauma (fractures, etc.)
  •  Intense physical exercise
  •  Microtrauma (often due to repeated actions at work)
  •  Metabolic diseases (Paget's disease, etc.)

Metabolic diseases:

Abnormalities of certain metabolisms can lead to a deposit of microscopic crystals in the joints. This is the case in the disease that everyone knows: gout where the crystals are composed of uric acid.

Hence, other crystals may occur such as those of calcium phosphate compounds that are deposited on the surface of joints in chondrocalcinosis, or hydroxyapatite crystals that tend to be deposited in the tendons.

It is in fact the repetition of inflammatory flare-ups triggered by these deposits that promotes the development of osteoarthritis in the joint in question.

For a better understanding of the phenomena that occur in the joint in osteoarthritis take a look at the section: Understanding

Hence, these diseases may be responsible for diffuse osteoarthritis involving joints spared by primitive osteoarthritis (wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles). The same is true for other diseases due to excess weight: hemochromatosis, Wilson's disease, Paget's disease and chondrodysplasia.



Microscopic lesions caused by too much stress can traumatize some joints and lead under certain conditions to the onset of osteoarthritis.

This is the case not only in certain occupations in which subjects are subjected to mechanical vibration and repeated shocks, but also when it is necessary to make repetitive movements.


Physical exercise


There is a close connection between exercise and osteoarthritis, but not always in the sense one might think.


Keeping moving is essential in osteoarthritis Exercise, provided that it remains appropriate to your condition and ability has a beneficial effect on the joints affected by osteoarthritis:


  • The joints keep their flexibility;
  • Muscle strength is maintained or even increased;
  • Joint stability is ensured;
  • Endurance in everyday activities is assured.


You must therefore keep up a regular exercise routine while avoiding overworking your joints.

Simply walking (at least one hour, three times a week) enables maintaining joints and significantly reducing pain.


However in case of pain, it is useless to deny it and continue as if nothing were wrong in relation to the activity causing it: it could worsen cartilage damage. You must therefore adapt your attitude to maintaining your activities as much as possible and paying heed to any pain if it occurs.


You should also be aware that a moderate amount of sports activities does not increase the risk of osteoarthritis even in elderly subjects. You can read the advice on sport in the following section: Everyday life.


However, intensive sports may be a cause of developing osteoarthritis. Indeed, the latter often leads to trauma and overexertion of joints.


This relates in particular to: football and rugby for the knees, dance for the hips and baseball for the elbows and shoulders.


Joint trauma


Often a fracture, dislocation or tendon injury can lead to osteoarthritis.


Architectural abnormalities

Whether congenital or acquired structural abnormalities will alter mechanical stress and promote the development of secondary osteoarthritis.

This may include dysplasia (hip), protrusions, subluxations or acquired anomalies such as coxa plana and slipped femoral epiphysis in childhood or osteonecrosis.

Genu varum is more common than genu valgum, it can be idiopathic or secondary.

Destructive inflammatory diseases may also alter some joint mechanisms. Thus, rheumatoid coxitis can lead to secondary osteoarthritis.


Being overweight:


We are now certain that obesity is a situation that promotes the development of osteoarthritis.


The risk of osteoarthritis is not only due to mechanical reasons (caused by being overweight), but also endocrine and metabolic factors. Studies have demonstrated a connection between osteoarthritis and high blood sugar.


If we can more easily understand the role of weight in the occurrence of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip, its role in osteoarthritis of the hands is more surprising. Researchers are currently looking for factors in the blood of obese people that could explain the deterioration of the cartilage.


To find out how to calculate your ideal weight, click here