Painful Hip Dysplasia in Adults – Does Excessive Exercise Make It Worse?

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The key word is “excessive” and the short answer is that extreme exercise programs increase the wear and tear on dysplastic hips. This is based on a research study by the ANCHOR Study Group – a hip research group that also advises IHDI. This study determined that excessive activity level leads to earlier reconstructive surgery for adults with hip dysplasia.

The good news is that mild or moderate physical activity did not lead to earlier hip dysplasia surgery. Excess body weight also led to earlier surgery, but too much exercise was associated with earlier surgery regardless of body weight. This means that weight management and moderate activity levels can delay the development of more severe arthritis and help protect the hip joint for a longer period of time. This may seem like “common sense”, but this is the first research study that helps people decide whether to modify their activities or not.

The earliest sign of adult hip dysplasia is often pain in the front of the hip, or in the groin region; not on the side of the hip where muscles attach – even though that can also be painful. Hip dysplasia in adults is more common than most people realize. It is the most common cause of hip arthritis in women younger than fifty, and accounts for at least one in twenty total hip replacements in the USA. Two separate research studies show that 90% of adults with hip dysplasia could not be detected during childhood by current screening methods. One study was from Norway and the other is from the USA with two authors who are members of the IHDI Medical Advisory Board. Current screening by newborn examination is unsuccessful for this type of hip dysplasia because these hips are generally stable during childhood. The problem is a shallow socket that could only be identified by x-rays. This shallow socket doesn’t support the hip well enough to last a lifetime, so pain and arthritis develop during adolescence or later in life. While hip dysplasia during childhood causes a lot of problems, the total burden of hip dysplasia is even greater when adult hip dysplasia is also considered.

The International Hip Dysplasia Institute is working to decrease the burden of hip dysplasia for children and adults. We are encouraging, conducting, and promoting research into new ideas for prevention and treatment of this common condition. Any help you can provide will be put to good use.

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