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Dysplasia of the Hip

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Dysplasia of the hip is also known as acetabular dysplasia and hip instability. It is a congenital disorder in which the hip socket (acetabulum) is too shallow to adequately house the ball (femur) of the hip joint.

Hip dysplasia can occur at birth (developmental hip dysplasia) or later (adolescent hip dysplasia). Many individuals with the disorder develop through childhood and adolescence without any symptoms or knowledge of the abnormality. By young adulthood, however, the patient will typically have experienced some hip pain.

In babies, the common symptoms of developmental hip dysplasia include:

  • The leg appears shorter on the side of the dislocated hip
  • The leg on the affected side turns outward
  • The folds in the skin of the thigh or buttocks appear uneven
  • The space between the legs looks wider than normal

In adolescents, the symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Hip and leg pain
  • Pain in the groin
  • Weakness in the leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss in range of motion
  • A grinding or clicking in the joint
  • A sensation of the hip “giving way”

Dysplasia of the hip can be either “borderline” or “frank,” and frank is more severe. Patients with untreated frank dysplasia often experience increasing hip pain, progressive loss of hip motion, and hip arthritis at a young age. Delaying treatment may cause significant cartilage damage and limit the available treatment options.

At Lancaster Orthopedic Group, conservative treatment will typically include modification of activities to avoid impingement, physical therapy to strengthen the muscles, and injections to reduce inflammation and pain. If conservative treatment fails to relieve the symptoms, surgery may be considered to reshape the bone and reduce stress on the area.

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