Overview of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), is a condition where the hip joint does not properly form. This can include a range of abnormalities from a shallow acetabulum (hip socket) that doesn’t fully cover the femoral head (the ball of the thigh bone), to a complete dislocation where the femoral head is not in the socket at all. It’s a condition that can affect one or both hips, often more common in the left hip, and is more prevalent in girls, firstborn children, and those with a family history of hip problems. It’s also associated with babies born in the breech position after 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary, including pain in the groin or side of the hip, a sensation of “catching” or “popping” with activity, and worsening pain with sitting, walking, or running. Diagnosis typically involves a complete medical history, physical examination, and X-ray evaluation. In some cases, additional imaging such as MRI or CT scans may be required.

Hip Dysplasia Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the severity of the dysplasia and the age at diagnosis. Early treatment can often prevent the need for surgery and reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis.

  • Non-surgical treatments: These may include lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, and the use of devices like the Pavlik harness for babies, which helps secure the hips in a stable position to allow normal development.
  • Surgical treatments: For more severe cases or when non-surgical treatments fail, surgery may be necessary. Options include periacetabular osteotomy (PAO), which corrects the alignment of the bones in the hip joint, and in cases where osteoarthritis has developed, total hip replacement may be considered.

Importance of Early Diagnosis in Hip Dysplasia

Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing complications such as osteoarthritis, pain, and mobility issues. Routine screening for DDH is part of newborn physical examinations and infant screening at 6 to 8 weeks of age. If there are risk factors or symptoms present, an ultrasound scan of the hip is recommended between 4 and 6 weeks old.

Hip dysplasia is a condition that, if left untreated, can lead to significant health issues including early-onset osteoarthritis and the need for hip replacement surgery. However, with early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, many individuals can lead normal, active lives without significant limitations.