What is Hip Dysplasia?
The hip joint is referred to as a “ball and socket” joint, meaning the head of the femur (the ball) should fit firmly within the curved portion of the pelvis (the socket). When the head of the femur does not properly fit into the pelvis, it is referred to as Hip Dysplasia. The lack of covering for the head of the femur can often lead to a partial or complete dislocation of the hip. Hip dysplasia can be easily diagnosed by a physician’s physical assessment, although sometimes they will order imaging studies, such as x-rays, to confirm.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia?
Adolescent Hip Dysplasia is often a result of a condition infants are born with, called Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH). Common causes for DDH include anything that may limit the amount of space the baby has to grow in utero; such as a large baby, a breech (upside down) position in utero, or a mother’s first pregnancy. Such a confined space can cause the baby’s hip to become displaced, and the hip socket to remain underdeveloped and too shallow to hold the femur. Routine screenings can usually catch any cases of DDH in babies, although more mild cases can go unnoticed for years.
Complications of Hip Dysplasia
While younger children typically don’t experience any pain as a result of Hip Dysplasia, the older and more active they become increases that risk. Pain will usually increase over time and is located in or toward the outside of the groin area. More commonly, children and adolescents will report a clicking or locking of the hip as they move it or put weight on it. The longer that Hip Dysplasia is left untreated, the more severe complications can become. The soft tissue around the socket of the pelvis, called the labrum, can tear as a result of increased activity. These children are also at an increased risk to develop osteoarthritis in their hip joint due to the higher wear on the dislocated joint.
Treatment for Hip Dysplasia is mainly focused around delaying or preventing the onset of osteoarthritis.
Non-Surgical: Changes in lifestyle, preforming less strenuous activities or losing weight can reduce pain. Physical therapy can improve range of motion in the joint. Finally, NSAIDS such as ibuprofen can be taken to manage the pain.
Surgical: Sometimes, a doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to correct the dislocation. Of course, this depends on the child’s age and the severity of the Hip Dysplasia because it is a highly invasive procedure. This involves the cutting and reshaping of the ball and socket so that the two surfaces fit together more smoothly.