By H. Robert Tuten, MD

Hip dysplasia occurs when the hip develops abnormally. The hips can either be completely or partially out of their sockets. Popping sounds may also take place.

In cases of congenital hip dysplasia, the condition is prevalent at birth. It’s typically seen in young children, especially those born in a breech birth, first-born children, females, and those with a familial history of loose hips.

Let’s take a closer look at how to spot congenital hip dysplasia, and investigate some successful treatment options.

Warning Signs of Congenital Hip Dysplasia

Pediatricians regularly check for hip dysplasia and all children are examined when first born. With the many appointments that each child has (for shots, check-ups, etc.) it’s rare for a diagnosis to be missed.

As a parent, you may notice that one hip is stiffer than the other or that there is a discrepancy in your child’s leg length. There may also be symmetry issues that show themselves during the bathing/diapering process (i.e. it may be harder to get one leg apart than the other). Be sure to bring these things up during your child’s appointments with the pediatrician.

Congenital Hip Dysplasia Treatment Options

Children diagnosed with hip dysplasia at a very young age are treated with bracing – almost always successfully. The brace is a soft one and is similar to a parachute harness. The child’s legs are positioned like a frog’s and the hip is tucked into its socket. The brace is worn for a period of six to ten weeks and allows the hip to form properly.

When treatment for hip dysplasia begins after the age of six months, the hip is popped back into the correct position and held in place with a cast. Dye is often placed into the socket to discover the required proper placement of the hip in the cast. This cast can be on for as long as 12 weeks.

If hip dysplasia has not been diagnosed and treated by the age of two, there is increasing likelihood that surgery – perhaps multiple surgeries – will be required.

After initial diagnosis and treatment, some children will also require periodic follow-up.  Again, pediatricians are almost always aware of any cases of hip dysplasia. However, if a parent suspects his child is displaying symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment and/or inquire about the condition during the child’s next doctor’s visit.

When detected and treated early on, hip dysplasia rarely causes extended issues. If the condition is neglected, however, it can result in a child being afflicted with an arthritic hip early on in life.

If you have further questions about congenital hip dysplasia, please contact us today.