Hip Dysplasia Treatment, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children Hip Clinic

In the newborn nursery, the pediatrician examined the hips of baby Phoebe. Her hips were appropriately aligned, however, the pediatrician knew that Phoebe was at risk for abnormal hip development because of her breech birth. The family understood that close follow up would help to answer the questions about treatment and outcome. When Phoebe was a month old, they visited the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children pediatric orthopedic office. At that visit, her ultrasound demonstrated a mild case of hip dysplasia and treatment was started.

What is Hip Dysplasia/Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH)?

Hip Dysplasia: Normal Hip Image

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. In a normal hip, the ball fits well in the deep socket. In Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip (DDH) the ball or socket may be abnormally shaped or unstable. DDH can be diagnosed early after birth (congenital), or it can develop as the child grows.

In mild cases of DDH, the femoral head moves back and forth within the socket, causing a child to have an unstable hip. In more serious cases, the head slips completely out of the socket becoming dislocated. The hip socket may be too shallow and the ligaments too loose to allow for normal development of the hip joint. This abnormal development causes the femoral head to put too much pressure on the rim of the hip socket. During childhood, this is usually painless. However, as time passes, cartilage within the hip will be damaged, resulting in degenerative osteoarthritis and disability.

Is hip dysplasia common?

Hip dislocations are relatively uncommon, affecting 1-2 out of 1,000 babies. Most commonly, hip dysplasia involves only a single side, but bilateral cases have been diagnosed. The left side is more often affected than the right because of intra-uterine positioning that limits the motion in the left hip.

What causes hip dysplasia?

The causes of DDH aren't completely understood, but experts think that many factors are involved.

Higher risk of hip dysplasia occurs in infants with any situation that stretches hip ligaments. Positioning of the infant in utero can also play a role in influencing the ball to slip out of the socket. The most common risk factors that raise concern are:

  • Breech positioning strains ligaments in the hip
  • Females tend to have more lax ligaments
  • Firstborn children are constrained by a tight uterine wall
  • Family history may indicate a genetic coding for increased laxity of the ligaments

Learn About the Symptoms & Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia