Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a medical condition where a hip socket doesn’t cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone fully. This allows your hip joint to become partially or completely dislocated. Generally, most people with hip dysplasia are born with this condition. Doctors generally check a baby for signs of hip dysplasia shortly after they are born, and during visits. If hip dysplasia gets diagnosed during early infancy, it may be easily corrected using a soft brace. In milder cases, the patient generally does not show symptoms until he/she is a teenager or a young adult.

This condition can cause damage to the cartilage lining the joint, and it can also hurt the soft cartilage or labrum that rims the socket portion of the hip joint. This is known as a hip labral tear.

In older children and young adults, surgery might be required to move the bones into the proper positions for smooth movement of the joints.


The signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia generally depend on age. Babies with this condition generally have one leg that is longer than the other. Kids with this condition might have one hip that is less flexible or limp while walking.

If you are a teenager or a young adult, the first signs that you are going to notice are likely going to be hip pain or a limp. You might also experience ‘popping’ or ‘clicking’ in the joint’, although these might also be symptoms of other hip disorders.

The pain usually comes on when you are doing any physical activity, and it is generally located in the front of the groin. But you might also experience discomfort in the side or back of your hip. It may start out mild and happen occasionally, and can over time become more intense and frequent. Half of the patients with hip dysplasia also suffer from pain at night.

The pain may also cause a mild limp. You are likely to develop a limp if your muscles are weak, or if you have a bone deformity or limited flexibility in the hip joint. If you have a limp for any of those reasons, you probably won’t experience any pain.

Causes & risk factors

Hip dysplasia is known to run in families. It generally occurs more in girls as compared to boys. It shows up in babies since the hip joint is made of soft cartilage when one is born. Over time, it hardens into bone. The ball and socket help mold each other during this time, and therefore if the ball is not fitting properly into the socket, the socket can end up too shallow and not form completely over the ball.

Few reasons why this can happen right before a baby is born, include the following:

  • It is the mother’s first pregnancy.
  •  The baby is in the breech position, which means the rear, not the head is toward the birth canal.
  • The baby is huge or there is a condition where there is less amniotic fluid in the sac that the baby has lived in throughout the pregnancy, which limits the movement of the baby.


All of these factors can lead to the amount of space in the womb reducing which can make things crowded for the baby and thus, move the ball out of its proper position.


During a visit, doctors generally check for hip dysplasia by moving the legs of an infant into different positions that can help indicate whether the hip joint fits together well.

Mild cases of hip dysplasia might be difficult to diagnose and may not cause any problems until you are a young adult. If your doctor is suspecting dysplasia, then he/she will likely suggest imaging tests, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging.



How the condition is going to be treated will depend on the age of your child as well as the severity of the condition. Babies that are diagnosed earlier can wear a soft brace that is going to hold the ball of the joint in the socket for some months. This will help to help mold it into the proper shape. A baby which is older than 6 months might require a full-body cast or surgical intervention.

Older children and adults

Surgery is the only treatment for older children as well as adults. If the dysplasia is mild, it might be treated arthroscopically. This means the surgeon is going to make tiny cuts and will use long-handled tools along with tiny cameras in order to fix the problem.

However, if the condition more serious and the child or young adult is skeletally mature, the surgeon might be going to need to cut the socket free from the pelvis. After this, he/she will have to reposition it so that it will match up better with the ball. This surgery is termed periacetabular osteotomy and it can help to delay or even prevent hip arthritis that can occur because to dysplasia.

Hips that suffer severe damage due of dysplasia might require replacement surgery.


Hip dysplasia can damage the soft cartilage or labrum that rims the socket portion of the hip joint. This is known as a hip labral tear. Hip dysplasia can also make your joint more likely to develop certain conditions such as osteoarthritis.


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