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What is Hip Dysplasia? Comprehensive Information from Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston

Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joints don’t develop normally, preventing the top end of the thigh bone from fitting properly into the socket. Usually, the cause of this issue is an abnormally shallow socket. This can prevent the joint from rotating normally. It can even cause the hip joint to become partially or fully dislocated and the cartilage to wear down at an especially high rate. Dysplasia also tends to make it difficult and painful to walk.

Hip dysplasia in children vs. hip dysplasia in adults

While hip dysplasia is usually present at birth, its impact may not become apparent until childhood or adolescence. However, some people with mild dysplasia do not experience anything out of the ordinary until adulthood.

That said, dysplasia is typically a progressive condition, meaning that it tends to get worse throughout a person’s development. As long as a person’s body is continually growing, his or her hip bones may continue to change. Orthopedic physicians can sometimes intervene if the condition is detected early, using conservative treatment options to help guide the hip bones into a more natural shape. However, once a person has finished growing, the degree of dysplasia that he or she has is not likely to change.

If left untreated, dysplasia can cause complications such as arthritis of the hip. As a result, chronic hip pain or changes in gait should always be discussed with an experienced physician – no matter when in a person’s life they occur.

Hip dysplasia treatment

For children with dysplasia, physicians may recommend special harnesses or braces to change the path of the hip’s development. For adults, however, treatment focuses on relieving pain, improving the function of the joint and preventing damage that could lead to early-onset arthritis. Physical therapy, for instance, can be used to strengthen the muscles in the hips and thighs, while pain relievers can help reduce discomfort.

For severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery may be recommended to reshape and realign the bones in the hip. Depending on a patient’s specific anatomy, a surgeon may operate on the socket of the hipbone (the acetabulum), the thighbone (the femur) or both.

At Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we offer comprehensive hip dysplasia treatment for patients six year of age and older. We take a conservative approach whenever appropriate, helping our patients find the least invasive but most effective options for their needs. For more information about our surgical and nonsurgical therapies, contact us today.