Arthritis affecting the hip and knee joints can significantly impact mobility and overall quality of life. Recognizing the early signs of arthritis in these weight-bearing joints is crucial for timely intervention and management. Here are key indicators that one should not overlook: 

Specific symptoms of hip arthritis can be hip pain and discomfort. Persistent pain in the hip joint that worsens during movement or weight-bearing activities is a primary sign. This discomfort might initially appear in the groin, thigh, or buttocks, spreading to the knee or lower back over time. Stiffness and reduced range of motion are hallmarks of arthritis. Difficulty moving the hip joint through its full range of motion is a common early symptom. This limitation might lead to challenges in activities like putting on socks, bending to tie shoelaces, or getting in and out of a car. Pain in the joint can occur during rest. Hip arthritis can cause discomfort even during periods of rest or inactivity, disturb sleep patterns, and cause interrupted sleep due to pain. As the condition progresses, mobility might significantly decrease, leading to a noticeable limp or favoring one side while walking. A sensation of grinding, clicking, or popping in the hip joint during movement is a sign of cartilage wear and tear, a characteristic feature of arthritis. 

Specific symptoms of knee arthritis can be knee pain and discomfort. Persistent knee pain, particularly when bending or bearing weight, is a primary indicator. Swelling around the knee joint, accompanied by warmth and redness, can also be an early sign of knee arthritis. 

Stiffness in the knee joint, especially after prolonged sitting or in the morning, can indicate the onset of arthritis. This stiffness might make it challenging to straighten or bend the knee fully. Audible cracking, popping, or crunching sounds (crepitus) when moving the knee can indicate cartilage deterioration. A feeling of instability or weakness in the knee, leading to buckling or giving way, can signal the progression of arthritis. Over time, knee arthritis might cause visible deformities, such as a bow-legged or knock-kneed appearance, due to joint changes. 

Recognizing these early signs of hip and knee arthritis is essential for seeking medical guidance. Consulting a Joint Replacement Surgeon is crucial if these symptoms persist or intensify. Early diagnosis can enable the implementation of strategies to slow down disease progression and manage symptoms effectively. Healthcare providers may recommend diagnostic tests like X-rays, MRIs, or physical examinations to confirm arthritis in these joints. Treatment strategies often include a combination of medication, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and, in severe cases, surgical options like joint replacement surgery. 

Moreover, individuals can take proactive measures to manage arthritis symptoms, such as weight management, low-impact exercises, using assistive devices, and incorporating joint-friendly activities into daily routines. Ignoring these early signs can lead to increased joint damage, heightened pain, and decreased mobility, impacting everyday activities and overall well-being. Awareness and timely intervention can significantly alter the course of the disease. Campbell Clinic providers are here to help and guide you through the management of arthritis to allow individuals to lead a more comfortable and active life. 

Christopher T. Holland, MD, MS, is a Total Joint Replacement Surgeon at Cambell Clinic. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 901.759.3111 or visit

By Christopher T. Holland, MD, MS