An important research study reaffirming that hip dysplasia is a major risk factor for arthritis of the hip was recently published. This research study from the Mayo clinic received the prestigious John Charnley award from the Hip Society.
The researchers looked at adult patients who underwent a total hip replacement for arthritis on one side but had no pain or arthritis on the other side. They then followed the side that did not have arthritis for an average of 20 years (range 10-35 years) to see who would develop problems with the normal hip. Adults with hip dysplasia were more likely to develop degenerative changes compared to those that had features of impingement (deep hip sockets or aspherical femoral heads) and those hips that were normally shaped. Not surprisingly, the likelihood of developing arthritis increased with increasing severity of hip dysplasia. For those with early signs of arthritis and hip dysplasia, the probability of needing a hip replacement within 10 years was one in three.
While previous studies have clearly linked hip dysplasia with risk of developing arthritis, this is one of the first studies to provide a control group, which really strengthens the validity of the study. The good news is that early intervention to preserve the hip joint before the development of too much arthritis seemed more likely to improve the outcome of patients with hip dysplasia compared to other patients.
Studies like this emphasize the importance of recognizing and treating hip dysplasia early in childhood to prevent damage to the hip in the form of arthritis. For adults with hip dysplasia, the study confirms the risks of developing osteoarthritis and supports early intervention to correct the dysplasia and preserve the hip joint.