Patient Education

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Transient Osteoporosis of the Hip

Transient osteoporosis of the hip (TOH) is a rare, self-limiting condition characterized by a temporary decrease in bone density in the hip joint, leading to pain and limited mobility. It is most commonly seen in middle-aged men and women in the third trimester of pregnancy.

Common Symptoms

  • Sudden Onset of Pain: Severe, sudden pain in the hip, groin, or buttocks that worsens with weight-bearing activities.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty moving the hip joint due to pain.
  • Swelling: Mild swelling around the hip joint.
  • Limping: An altered gait to avoid putting weight on the affected hip.

Cause & Anatomy

The exact cause of TOH is not well understood, but potential factors include:

  • Hormonal Changes: Particularly in pregnant women, hormonal fluctuations may contribute to bone density loss.
  • Vascular Factors: Reduced blood flow to the hip joint may lead to temporary bone loss.
  • Mechanical Stress: Excessive stress on the hip joint may trigger the condition.

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint where the head of the femur (thigh bone) fits into the acetabulum (hip socket) of the pelvis. TOH affects the femoral head, leading to temporary bone loss and weakening.


Medical History and Physical Examination:

  • Assessment of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination of the hip.

Imaging Tests:

  • X-rays: May show decreased bone density in the femoral head.
  • MRI: More sensitive in detecting early changes in bone density and identifying other potential causes of hip pain.
  • Bone Scan: Can show increased uptake in the affected hip, indicating increased bone turnover.


As the exact cause of TOH is not well understood, specific preventive measures are not well established. However, general bone health maintenance may be beneficial:

  • Calcium and Vitamin D: Ensuring adequate intake to support bone health.
  • Regular Exercise: Engaging in weight-bearing and strength-training exercises to maintain bone density.
  • Avoiding Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: Both can negatively impact bone health.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Rest and Activity Modification:

  • Avoid weight-bearing activities to reduce stress on the hip.
  • Use crutches or a walker to assist with mobility and reduce pain.

Pain Management:

  • NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Analgesics: Pain relievers to manage severe pain.

Physical Therapy:

  • Gentle range-of-motion exercises to maintain hip mobility.
  • Gradual strengthening exercises as pain subsides and bone density improves.


Surgery is rarely needed for TOH, as the condition is typically self-limiting and resolves spontaneously within 6 to 12 months. However, surgical intervention may be considered if there are complications or if the condition does not improve with conservative treatment.


  • Physical Therapy: Key component of rehabilitation to restore strength and mobility.
  • Gradual Increase in Activity: Slowly reintroduce weight-bearing activities as symptoms improve and bone density recovers.


How long does transient osteoporosis of the hip last?
The condition typically resolves within 6 to 12 months, although the exact duration can vary among individuals.

Can TOH occur in both hips?
While it usually affects only one hip, it can occasionally occur in both hips, either simultaneously or sequentially.

Is TOH related to other forms of osteoporosis?
TOH is distinct from chronic osteoporosis. It is a temporary condition, whereas chronic osteoporosis involves long-term bone density loss.

What is the prognosis for TOH?
The prognosis is generally good, with most individuals recovering fully without long-term complications.

Can TOH recur?
Recurrence is rare but possible. Maintaining good bone health and following medical advice can help reduce the risk of recurrence.

Are there any long-term complications associated with TOH?
TOH usually resolves without long-term complications. However, if left untreated, it can potentially lead to fractures or other issues due to weakened bone structure.

Is there a specific age group most affected by TOH?
TOH most commonly affects middle-aged men and women in the third trimester of pregnancy, although it can occur in other age groups as well.

Can TOH be confused with other hip conditions?
Yes, symptoms of TOH can resemble other hip conditions such as avascular necrosis, arthritis, or fractures. Accurate diagnosis through imaging and medical evaluation is essential.

Is weight management important for TOH?
Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce stress on the hip joint and support overall bone health, which may be beneficial in managing TOH.

Should I avoid all physical activity if I have TOH?
While weight-bearing activities should be minimized, gentle, non-weight-bearing exercises can help maintain mobility and support recovery. Always follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Transient osteoporosis of the hip is a manageable condition with appropriate rest, pain management, and gradual rehabilitation. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to minimize symptoms and support recovery. If you suspect you have TOH, consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

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