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What Is Hip Dysplasia?

Your hip joint is where your thigh bone (femur) and pelvis meet. The upper thigh bone ends in a ball that fits inside the socket (acetabulum) of your pelvis.

If a child’s hip socket does not develop properly and is too shallow, the ball of the femur may not fit completely, leaving part of it uncovered. This condition is called hip dysplasia, or developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Although hip dysplasia is usually present at birth or during early childhood, many people who have this condition go through childhood and adolescence without experiencing any symptoms.

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Hip Dysplasia Symptoms

Some people, especially women, have dysplasia and don’t know it until their mid-teens, twenties or thirties. However, once they reach young adulthood, they may experience symptoms like:

  • Pain in the front of the hip (groin) after running, walking, or prolonged sitting,
  • Difficulty walking up or downhill, and/or
  • Catching or popping of the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia can damage the cartilage in your hip joint and lead to labral tears and early osteoarthritis. Although you will most likely need a hip replacement at some time in your life, getting treatment for symptoms of hip dysplasia can help delay this.

Hip Dysplasia Treatment

In order to preserve your hip and avoid or delay a total hip replacement in the future, your doctor will likely recommend one of the following treatments:

  • Arthroscopy—Some mild dysplasia problems can be treated with a hip arthroscopy. In this procedure, a small camera (or arthroscope) is inserted into your hip joint through a small incision to check for and repair any damage.
  • Osteotomy—Your doctor may recommend a periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) to correct the alignment of the bones in your hip joint. In this surgery, bone in your pelvis will be cut and repositioned to better cover the ball of your femur.

If your dysplasia doesn’t cause any painful symptoms or affect your daily activities, you might choose not to have treatments to correct it. In this case, you should visit your doctor every year or two to monitor X-rays and reevaluate your symptoms.

Next Steps

If you are suffering from hip pain or would like to be evaluated by a specialist, call 801-587-7109 to request an appointment.

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