Sclerosis of the Hip

Sclerosis refers to the abnormal hardening of the body tissue. This write-up provides information on the medical conditions that may cause sclerosis of the hip along with ways of treating the same.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Sclerosis, which is characterized by the hardening of tissue, could affect various parts of the body. Some of the medical conditions that are characterized by hardening of tissue are Lou Gehrig's disease, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, liver sclerosis, otosclerosis, osteosclerosis, and systemic sclerosis. Osteosclerosis is a medical condition that is characterized by increased bone density. Sclerosis of the hip, as the name suggests, is a condition wherein the bone density of the hip bone increases. A person affected by this condition is most likely to experience hip pain.
The thickening and the hardening of the hip bone could be attributed to osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint disease. More often than not, osteoarthritis affects the elderly. The characteristic symptoms of this condition are pain, stiffness, and restrictive range of motion of the affected joint due to the breakdown of cartilage. The term 'cartilage' refers to the protective connective tissue that covers the ends of the bones at the joint.
When the loss of cartilage due to wear and tear leaves the surface of the bone unprotected, friction between the bones may give rise to inflammation. This could lead to the development of osteophytes or bony outgrowths. When the ends of the bones frequently rub against each other, the surface may undergo sclerosis. Though this condition could affect any joint, weight-bearing joints such as the knee and hip are more likely to get affected. Sclerosis of subchondral bone, which is the layer of bone just below the cartilage, is often observed in people diagnosed with osteoarthritis.
Osteopetrosis, which is also called Marble bone disease and Albers-Schonberg disease, is an inherited condition that is characterized by elevated bone density. It is believed that certain mutations in genes affect the functioning of osteoclasts. These are specialized cells that play a vital role in breakdown and resorption of bone tissue. When these cells cannot break down the old bone tissue and replace it with new one, the new tissue deposits over the old tissue, thereby elevating the bone density. This condition makes one susceptible to fractures and recurring infections. It could be benign or malignant. Affected individuals may develop arthritis. Sclerosis in the bones of hip joint might be observed in those who develop arthritis in hips due to osteopetrosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Sclerosis can be diagnosed with the help of imaging studies. The bone that is denser can be detected on a radiograph. It can be seen as an area that is more opaque. Bone density tests or bone scans can prove helpful in diagnosis. A physical examination will help the doctors identify the changes in the alignment and the movement of the hip. If the diagnostic tests are indicative of osteoarthritis of the hip, doctors may prescribe certain drugs for pain management. The aim of the treatment would be to improve the range of motion of the hip joint. Those who are obese would have to lose excess weight so as to reduce the pressure on the joint. One may also benefit from physical therapy. Doctors may perform osteotomy or arthroscopy. In severe cases, hip resurfacing or hip replacement surgery may be recommended. If sclerosis is due to malignant osteopetrosis, doctors may recommend a bone marrow transplant. Vitamin D supplements may be prescribed for children who have been diagnosed with osteopetrosis, so as to stimulate resorption of bone by osteoclasts.
When an increase in the bone density is incidentally diagnosed during an X-ray examination or imaging procedures, further tests would be conducted to identify the underlying cause of sclerosis. If hardening of the hip bone is caused by osteoarthritis, one must take the prescribed drugs and follow other treatment options or lifestyle-related changes suggested by the doctor.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.