Diagnosis of hip arthritis
Nobody knows your hip pain better than you. When you first see your doctor at Circle, they will talk with you about your medical history and what you have been doing to manage the hip pain up to now. If you have previously seen your GP about your hip, your Circle doctor will be able to refer to any medical notes from your GP, along with any previous X-rays you may have had done.
They will have a thorough examination of your hip, thigh and lower back, assessing your range of movement in the joint and the extent of any problems. Hip pain can sometimes occur due to a problem in your back, so this will also be examined in order to rule out the possibility of referred pain.
Depending on your medical history and the examination, your doctor may arrange for you to have one of a number of diagnostic tests to help confirm a diagnosis of arthritis and/or treatment options. All these tests can easily be carried out at your Circle hospital, often on the same day as your consultation, and may include:
- X-ray: Where hip arthritis is suspected, your doctor will usually arrange for you to have an X-ray as this can show clear signs of arthritis in the joint. Well-developed arthritis tends to be more easily seen on an X-ray, while new or mild arthritis may not be as obvious or clear. Often, an X-ray of your whole pelvis will be done, as this allows your doctor to compare the appearance of both hip joints to one another.
- CT scan: Best thought of as a way of generating a three-dimensional X-ray, a CT scanner resembles a large doughnut. You lie on a table which is then moved so that your hip is inside the scanner. Standing for ‘computerised tomography’, a CT scanner uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to generate a detailed view of your hip joint from multiple angles. A CT scan is good at showing subtle signs of arthritis that may be missed on a standard X-ray and can also be extremely helpful when planning hip surgery.
- MRI scan: An MRI scanner uses strong magnets rather than ionising radiation. Standing for ‘magnetic resonance imaging’, an MRI scan provides your doctor with high-quality images of your hip joint. It is particularly good for showing tendon damage, which can be a common problem with hip arthritis. For the scan, you lie on a table which then moves into the middle of the scanner for the duration of the scan. You will need to keep as still as possible for the scan, which usually takes between 20-45 minutes.
The images from any diagnostic scan you have will be examined by a radiologist (a doctor who specialises in interpreting diagnostic images). The radiologist will send their report to your doctor as soon as it is done.
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