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Hip Dysplasia: When do You Need Surgery?

Hip Dysplasia: When do You Need Surgery?

Are you suffering from hip dysplasia? If so, when is surgery necessary? According to an article presented by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, hip dysplasia is a relatively common abnormality among American infants—accounting for 10% of total hip replacements.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thigh bone is shaped abnormally or out of place so that it doesn't line up correctly with the socket in the pelvis. Over time, hip dysplasia gradually damages the tissue cushioning and cartilage in the affected joints leading to hip pain, unequal leg length, unstable hip joint, limping, or even dislocations. 

Hip dysplasia often develops at birth—especially when the womb is crowded, and the ball of the baby's hip joint (i.e., femoral head) moves out of position. This misplacement leads to a shallower socket (acetabulum). The risk of hip dysplasia is higher in girls, large babies, breech presentations, first pregnancies, and babies who are swaddled inappropriately. 

If the femoral head and the hip socket do not fit properly, the smooth cartilage between the two wears out due to high contact pressure. This wearing leads to loss of flexibility, stiffness, hip pain, and an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.

How is Hip Dysplasia Treated? 

Management and treatment for hip dysplasia mainly focus on protecting the affected joint from further damage and managing the hip pain—depending on the patient's unique needs. If detected early, doctors may use a harness or brace to support the joint as the baby develops. 

Physical exercise is also a great option to improve joint flexibility and strength.

Surgery is often the most viable treatment option when the condition is diagnosed in adulthood. 
If the cartilage between the femoral ball and the socket is not excessively worn, doctors can perform realignment surgery.  This surgery helps the ball fit better by repositioning and reshaping the socket. Doctors may also perform a periacetabular osteotomy.  This procedure repositions the socket by detaching it from the pelvis and realigning it to match the ball.

Total hip replacement surgery is recommended only when the cartilage's damage is extensive, and the joint can no longer move smoothly. In such cases, the patient is often unable to carry out day-to-day activities due to intense hip pain.

Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon

In a nutshell, you need surgery for hip dysplasia if you're an adult. It's necessary to prevent further damage to the cartilage between the abnormal ball and hip socket. If you have any signs of hip dysplasia like chronic hip pain, it's highly advisable to seek professional healthcare for proper diagnosis and treatment by a qualified orthopedic surgeon. For more information on joint health, contact Daniel J. Albright, MD. Call (919) 863-6808.

  • ABOS
  • AAOS
  • NCOA
  • PractEssentials