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Congenital dysplasia of the hip: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About congenital dysplasia of the hip

Congenital dysplasia of the hip also called developmental hip dysplasia is characterised by hip dislocation and can affect one or both joints. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint which is involved in weight bearing. Normally the head of the thigh bone (femur) fits perfectly into the socket of the hip bone (acetabulum). But in this disorder, this approximation between femur head and the acetabulum is disrupted due to various reasons and results in hip dislocation.

Congenital dysplasia of the hip: Incidence, age and sex

Congenital dysplasia of the hip is a common disorder of infants and children of less than 5 years and carries an affliction for girls.

Signs and symptoms of congenital dysplasia of the hip: Diagnosis

Congenital dysplasia of hip is a problem which is generally detected at birth, if present. But in mild cases, it may remain undiagnosed for quite some time. The clinical manifestations include asymmetrical position of the legs along with the leg on the affected side being shorter and turned outward. The condition is painless thereby leading to failure of diagnosis in some instances. However reduced movements at hip which may be especially noticed once the child starts crawling and walking may establish the diagnosis. In seldom instances when the disorder is bilateral, the child walks with a characteristic waddling gait. The disorder can be easily diagnosed on physical examination including certain manoeuvres like Ortolani’s and Barlow’s test. The diagnosis can be confirmed by imaging modalities like X ray or ultrasonography if there seems to be any doubt.

Causes and prevention of congenital dysplasia of the hip

This hip disorder is a developmental disorder which mostly develops in utero or during delivery and present at birth. However it may also be acquired during the period of infancy in response to positive family history or other reasons. Other risk factors resulting in this disorder include abnormal position of foetus or decreased amniotic fluid in utero. Occasionally, this hip disorder may also occur in instance of breech delivery wherein the buttocks instead of head come out first.

Congenital dysplasia of the hip: Complications

General complications of congenital dysplasia of hip include chronic pain around the hip joint or a failure to restore complete range of movement around the joint. The most common complication is the difference in length of both legs which is may result in limping. Arthritis of the hip joint may result if the condition is ignored and left untreated.

Congenital dysplasia of the hip: Treatment

The key to effective treatment is early diagnosis and management. If diagnosed in the first year of life, it may improve with body cast or a special harness called a Pavlik harness to keep the joint in place. This is a non-surgical positioning device which braces the joints in place. Sometimes, surgical interventions may be advised as a last resort where re-shaping of joint bones may improve the condition. This hip dysplasia can be completely managed successfully if diagnosed in the first year of life.