Hip dysplasia refers to the condition where the hip socket does not entirely encompass the area of the upper thighbone. This leads to either a partial or a complete dislocation of the hip joint.
The hip is one of the biggest organs in the body, with a ball and socket type of joint structure. The socket comprises the acetabulum, located beneath the pelvis while the ball consists of the upper end of the thighbone or femur.
Hip dysplasia often develops right from the time the baby is born and is more common in girls than in boys. In minor instances, symptoms are not prominently displayed until the teenage years or early twenties.
In a healthy individual, the ball and socket portions of the hip joint develop fully, from cartilage tissues to hardened bones, to enable proper movement around the hips and thighs. However, in case of hip dysplasia, the ball is not accurately fitted into the socket, resulting in the incomplete formation of the latter and causing difficulty in normal motions and instability while standing or walking.
This situation can arise due to overcrowding in the womb of the carrying mother, owing to reasons including first pregnancy, large body size of the baby, or breech presentation, where the legs of the baby are closest to the cervix and emerge foremost at the time of birth.
In scenarios where the indications of hip dysplasia are recognised early on, placing a soft brace can easily rectify the joint displacement. However, this congenital condition, much like juvenile arthritis, can be incapacitating if not diagnosed in time. Hence, it is advised to seek prompt medical care, as soon as any challenges in moving the hips or balancing the body are identified. Also Read: Juvenile Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The characteristic signs of hip dysplasia consist of the following:
In babies and children:
- One leg being lengthier in comparison to the other
- Limping while walking or running
- Reduced flexibility around the hip joint towards one side
In teenagers and young adults:
Diagnosis And Treatment
The doctor will initially examine the baby during the routine wellness visits, attempting to twist and turn the legs and hips of the baby at different angles and positions, to determine if there is any rigidity. This assists in establishing if the hip joint is attached firmly.
In teenagers and young adults, the healthcare provider will conduct imaging tests, such as X-rays and ultrasound, to look for any irregularities in the hip joint structure.
Treatment measures for infants with hip dysplasia are soft braces called a Pavlik harness, which balances the ball segment of the joint intact in the socket for many months, until the position is corrected.
In babies older than six months, doctors will move the bones in the pelvic region, to the precise location, either physically with a full-body cast, or by surgery.
In severe instances of hip dysplasia, a complex procedure known as periacetabular osteotomy is carried out, to remove the socket from the pelvis and then reposition it, to ensure an exact fit of the hip joint.
In teenagers and young adults with a grave presentation of hip dysplasia, hip replacement surgery is recommended by the medical professional, to manage debilitating consequences of arthritis. Also Read: World Arthritis Day: Simple And Effective Tips To Manage Joint Pain