Arthritis in the hip can mean many different things, but generally it refers to the loss of cartilage. The cartilage is the soft surface that allows a joint to move smoothly. Without cartilage the joint binds up and can be excruciatingly painful. Hip arthritis is more common than shoulder arthritis but not as common as knee arthritis. Nonoperative treatment is pursued for as long as possible. Surgical options are considered last.