Hip dysplasia is a problem in a baby's hip joint. It may be called developmental hip dysplasia or developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). The top of the thigh bone doesn't fit tightly into the hip socket. This problem may affect one or both hip joints. A baby may be born with it, or it may happen in the first year of life.
In a normal hip, the thigh bone (femur) fits snugly into a cup-shaped socket in the pelvis. It is held in place by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. But in DDH, the hip socket may be too shallow or the tissues around the joint may be too loose.
In mild cases, the ligaments and other soft tissues aren't tight. This lets the thigh bone move around more than normal in the hip socket. In more severe cases, the hip socket is more like a saucer than a deep cup. As a result, the ball at the top of the thigh bone may slide out of the hip socket.
It's important to get DDH treated early. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is to cause long-term hip problems.
DDH isn't painful, and your baby may not have any obvious signs of a hip defect. But some babies with this problem may have:
Your child's hip socket won't form and grow properly if the ball at the top of the thigh bone doesn't fit snugly in the joint. So treatment focuses on moving the thigh bone into its normal position and keeping it in place while the joint grows.
Your child may need:
Other forms of treatment that may be needed include:
If treatment works well, your child probably won't have any further hip problems. But you will need to get your child's hips checked regularly to make sure that they grow and develop normally.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
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Current as of: May 12, 2017
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Donald Sproule, MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
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