In a healthy human hip, the ball portion of the upper thighbone is covered by the hip socket. When the ball portion of the thighbone isn’t completely encased, the hip joint can become dislocated, causing the ball to become loose in the socket – a condition known as developmental dysplasia of the hip. And while this condition most commonly occurs in newborn and infants, dysplasia of the hip can also occur in teens and adults. Here’s what you need to know.
Diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip usually occurs early in life or at birth, meaning that it may be hereditary or at least, it is a condition that appears to “run in the family.” Breech babies are more susceptible than babies who are not, with girls being more affected than males. While either hip can be affected, dysplasia more often affects the left hip. A pediatrician will check infants at birth for this condition; they will continue to check during the first few years of life. When developmental dysplasia is discovered early, it can be treated and corrected.
Many pediatricians theorize that babies who develop dysplasia as infants may have been swaddled too tightly. If this is the case, parents should speak with their pediatrician about how to swaddle correctly; ideally, a parent should learn correct swaddling technique and practice on a doll, well before baby is born.
Diagnoses: A Matter of When
With treatment, children who are diagnosed early in life will be able to have normal hip function. However, it is believed that only 10 percent of babies are successfully diagnosed early on, which could account for the number of adults who present with the disease in later life. A diagnosis made later in life likely will result in more involved and complicated treatment. Dysplasia can result in a good deal of pain and may even result in osteoarthritis or hip deformities – especially in adult women, where dysplasia is the most common cause of hip arthritis. Additionally, dysplasia accounts for 10 percent of hip replacements in the U.S.
Left untreated, dysplasia may bring on a host of health concerns. Teenagers may experience damage to the soft cartilage surrounding the socket of the hip joint; this is defined as a labral tear and can be debilitating. As mentioned above, the hip joint over times will become susceptible to osteoarthritis. Persons with developmental dysplasia may have one leg shorter than the other, causing them to limp and causing strain on the rest of their musculoskeletal system. Hip replacement surgery is an inevitable treatment choice, as the hip with dysplasia will wear out over time. Your orthopedists may recommend arthroplasty to replace the joint with prosthetic parts, creating better fit for the ball in the joint and eliminating the pain associated with bone-on-bone scraping and dislocation.
Orthopedic Care in West Jersey
If you or a loved one hasn’t been diagnosed but suspect dysplasia is the culprit behind hip pain, please call our orthopedic experts at Orthopedic Associates of West Jersey for an appointment. Our number is: 973-989-0888. You may also access an online appointment request form here.