Hip Dysplasia: Why Every Parent Should Know About It

Hip Dysplasia: Why Every Parent Should Know About It

The biggest ball and socket joint of the body is that of the hip, and when the socket of your hip does not cover the ball of either or both of your thigh bones, then that condition is known as Hip Dysplasia. Due to this condition, the hip joint becomes partially or totally dislocated. More often than not, people suffering from this condition are born with it and are, therefore, mostly found in babies. 

Cartilage is the tissue that cushions these bones in the joint. Hip dysplasia damages this cartilage. Girls and firstborn children are more likely to have the condition, and while it can occur in either hip, it is more common on the left side.


While there are multiple symptoms of this disease, the symptoms can vary according to age. 

In newborns or really small babies

  • One leg is likely to be longer than the other..
  • One hip might be more flexible than the other.
  • Limping when the child starts walking

In teenagers and adults:

  • Pain in the Hip
  • A sensation of instability in your hip
  • Clicking or popping in the Hip joints
  • Mild limp in the initial stages


The ball and socket joint of the hip area need to be molded together into each other in a way that the hit can function properly. If the ball isn’t seated firmly into the socket, the socket will not fully form around the ball and will become too shallow. 

Now since this condition is most common in babies, it results from overcrowding in the womb in the final months. Due to that, the hip joint ball moves out of its proper position, which results in a shallower socket. It can also be genetic. It is mostly found in first pregnancy cases or when the baby is a little too large for the boom or when there is breech presentation.

The socket is not deep enough to hold the femoral head in place in some people, leading to later age hip dysplasia.


In newborns:

  • The doctor might run a physical exam of the baby on its first appointment and move its leg in different directions to see if the ball and joint socket of the hip are properly located.
  • Appearances of proper symptoms and consequent diagnosis are likely to be done only after the first two or three months.
  • X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds can only be done after the child has turned six months.

In teenagers and adults:

  • Your doctor might run a physical test to check for limp, muscle wasting, the difference in the lengths of the legs, or tilt in the pelvis.
  • Your doctor might run a test called impingement test, in which they flex your hip and then twist it toward the middle of your body. If you have this disease, there will be a pinching feeling.
  • An MRI or X-ray can also help your doctor diagnose your condition and understand its severity.


Similar to the diagnosis, the treatment for Hip Dysplasia also varies for children and adults. 

For babies:

  • Doctors might use a brace or harness to hold the joint of the child in place while they grow. This helps the socket mold to the shape of the ball.
  • A baby older than six months may need a full-body cast or even a minor surgery.
  • Physical therapy, like a few easy exercises involving the ball socket joint, might also be helpful.

For adults:

  • Surgery is the primary and best option for the treatment in adults.
  • Surgery involves cutting the socket free from the pelvis and repositioning it so that it matches up better with the ball. This surgery is called a periacetabular osteotomy.
  • A replacement surgery with an artificial joint might also be required if the hips are severely damaged.


Since this condition is mostly found in babies and can be genetic, it is almost impossible to prevent it. Best to avoid the risk, children should not be rubbed up too tightly since their bones are very sensitive when they are newborns. 

Risk Factors 

A few people are more likely to develop hip dysplasia than others.

  • It can be a genetic disease coming down from the parents or grandparents
  • It is more common in girls than in boys
  • Firstborns are more likely to develop this condition.
  • Children born in breech position
  • Babies who are swaddled tightly with the hips and knees straight.


In babies:

  • Children treated with the brace or a cast might take a little longer to walk than other babies.
  • The difference in the length of the legs might not go away.
  • The hip socket might not become deep enough even after treatment and might need surgery later in life when the child grows.

In adults:

  • Hip labral tear: Damage to the soft cartilage that lines the socket of the hip joint might stay for life.
  • Osteoarthritis: Cartilage damage that causes hip pain and stiffness. This can be a prolonged result of hip dysplasia
  • Dislocated joint: Bones slide out of place in the joint.
  • Unstable joint: Looseness in the joint that causes pain and weakness and might continue to last for a lifetime.


Since hip dysplasia is normally and usually found in children, parents should visit that doctor as soon as they notice mild symptoms in their babies. They should get the condition diagnosed and treated before it turns into something serious. It’s better to consult the doctor at the earliest. The doctors will diagnose the condition and will provide the appropriate solution, based on how severe the condition is. 

It is almost impossible to prevent this disease but there is one preventive measure that parents can take. Rubbing or massaging your newborn, this can have positive effects on bones and joints and can prevent various diseases related to it.

Even in the case of adults, professional advice is compulsory, and if the doctor suggests surgery, then it should be done at the earliest possible. However, surgery should only be carried out after having talked about all the risks and complications involved. 

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