Hip Dysplasia—a degenerative condition caused by a congenital defect in the joint—can lead to hip pain and instability. A versatile ball-and-socket structure, your hip joint forms where the ball of your femur meets the socket of your hip bone. In healthy adults, the hip supports the majority of the upper body’s weight and enables a wide range of movement.
When it comes to hip dysplasia, however, the ball of the femur does not fit securely into the socket. Either the socket of the hip formed too shallowly, or the ball of the femur developed abnormally. Or, both defects occurred simultaneously. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia can lead to premature joint degeneration, hip osteoarthritis, pain, and even—dislocation.
Moreover, orthopedic specialists and pediatricians diagnose hip dysplasia more commonly than you might think. In fact, because symptoms often emerge in later life, many people don’t realize that hip dysplasia can begin in utero. However, the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI) reports that 1 in every 100 infants will be treated for hip dysplasia. Breech deliveries, constrictions in the womb resulting from a small uterus or larger than average fetus, or genetic predisposition… Many different causes can lead to abnormal hip development.
However, advances in screening methods and treatment options for infantile hip dysplasia have improved greatly over recent decades. Moreover, vigilant early detection and more accurate diagnostics have resulted in effective interventions to avoid future problems. Nevertheless, early action is not always given … or even possible. When doctors or parents miss the signs in children, the symptoms of hip dysplasia will undoubtedly appear in adulthood. And, a number of painful—and potentially incapacitating symptoms—may result.
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Undoubtedly, your hips represent a crucial joint in your body. In particular, you use your hips every day to sit, walk, stand, and bend. For this reason, adults will find it less easy to ignore the signs of hip dysplasia than children.
Furthermore, most adults with hip dysplasia were born with a mild case of the condition. If left untreated in childhood, the hip will begin to degenerate and destabilize at an exponential rate. Especially, when compared to a healthy hip joint. A variety of symptoms will begin to appear. For example, the following symptoms may emerge if you suffer from hip dysplasia:
The symptoms of hip dysplasia can sometimes be confused with those of other hip conditions. For example, hip osteoarthritis can mimic the symptoms of hip dysplasia. And, in many instances, hip dysplasia can lead to hip osteoarthritis. To add to the confusion, bursitis, fractures, ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis all result in symptoms similar to hip dysplasia. For these reasons, an accurate diagnosis of hip dysplasia is crucial for receiving effective treatment.
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Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia
Many different conditions with the same symptoms can plague the adult hip. Therefore, achieving an accurate diagnosis will guide your treatment. When working with a physician, your doctor will likely use an X-ray as his or her main diagnostic tool. With this radiographic information, your doctor can clearly see the anatomy of your hips and the formation of the joint. Additionally, an MRI can also help your doctor view any damage to tissues in the joint, like labral tears.
Changes in Lifestyle: For minor complications due to Hip Dysplasia, lifestyle modifications can greatly improve symptoms. Weight loss can be a huge factor in this endeavor. Because the entire weight of the upper body rests on the hips, losing abdominal weight can help tremendously with hip pain and degeneration. Low-impact exercise such as riding a bicycle or hydrotherapy offer great options for exercise without adding stress on the joints.
Pain Management: Minor and severe cases of hip dysplasia will often call for some form of pain management. For some, this may look like over-the-counter NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen. More severe pain may require prescription medications, or corticosteroid injections to target the pain at its source.
Hip Preservation Surgery: Minimally Invasive Hip Preservation aims to save hips that are damaged but do not require a full replacement. Almost exclusively used for hip dysplasia, this procedure aims at addressing abnormally shaped femur heads and inadequately shaped sockets. Hip preservation involves the removal and shaping of parts of the bone to create a more adjusted and stable hip joint. In many cases, your doctor can accomplish this arthroscopically with small incisions and visual aid from scopes.
Total Hip Replacement: In severe and extremely painful cases of hip dysplasia, you may require a full hip replacement. In fact, according to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IHDI), 20% of all Total Hip Replacements on adults under the age of 50 result from hip dysplasia. This is the most invasive of options, although techniques and materials have improved significantly over the years.
Total Hip Replacement involves the removal of damaged tissue and bone in the socket joint. Your doctor will then replace these structures with an artificial joint. With a very high success rate, this procedure gives new life to a multitude of people each year.
Physical therapy: To increase flexibility and mobility, physical therapy may be an ideal conservative treatment method to help strengthen the hip joint.
Arthroscopy: In cases where the hip socket is too shallow, a surgeon may cut around the hip socket and then line up the leg bone to create a better fit, resulting in less stress on the labrum.
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