What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a problem with the way the hip joint is shaped or aligned. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint that includes two main parts:
- The acetabulum, or the socket portion of the joint
- The femoral head, or the ball portion of the joint
In a normal hip, the femoral head rests comfortably inside the hip socket and is surrounded by cartilage structures to let you move. But in hip dysplasia, the socket is too shallow, is shaped abnormally, or isn’t oriented properly with the other parts of the joint. This causes the hip to be unstable and can damage the hip’s cartilage structures.
What causes hip dysplasia?
Many people are born with this condition. More rarely, a traumatic injury to the hip socket during childhood can cause the condition. A rare condition called Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, which occurs when the femoral head doesn’t get enough blood, can also cause hip dysplasia.
We’re only able to detect and treat extremely unstable hips in infants. That’s because most people with hip dysplasia don’t show any symptoms until later in life.
Who is at risk for hip dysplasia?
Females are more at risk to develop hip dysplasia than males. Patients with this condition often have a family history of hip arthritis. Some factors relating to birth are associated with hip dysplasia, including:
- Being the firstborn child of your family
- Breech birth (being born feet- or bottom-first, rather than head-first)
- Having too little amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds an unborn baby) before birth
What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia?
Common symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
- Hip pain, generally on the side of the hip
- Groin and/or thigh pain
- Limping that gets worse over time
- Pain that gets worse during particular activities, such as standing, walking, dancing, or running
These symptoms can begin either in childhood or later in life, depending on how severe the condition is and other factors, such as:
- Sports or other activities that can strain the hip
How we diagnose acetabular dysplasia
Your doctor will start with a thorough physical exam and medical history. We want to rule out other possible causes of hip pain, such as hip impingement.
The doctor will order diagnostic imaging tests like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) arthrograms to measure the hip and evaluate damage to the hip cartilage. An MRI arthrogram is done by first injecting contrast dye into the joint to highlight soft tissue areas, such as ligaments and cartilage, to make the MRI images clearer.
What are my treatment options for hip dysplasia?
We treat hip dysplasia with surgery. If your hip cartilage has little or no damage, you may be a candidate for hip reconstruction with periacetabular osteotomy. If you’re not a good candidate for a periacetabular osteotomy, you may need to have hip replacement surgery.