Adult Hip Dysplasia

If you have hip dysplasia, you are not alone!

Nine out of ten cases of hip dysplasia are only diagnosed during adolescence or adulthood. Doctors are more and more aware of this common condition that often escapes detection during childhood. In fact, this silent form of hip dysplasia is the most common cause of hip arthritis in women younger than fifty, and the reason for 5% to 10% of all total hip replacements in the USA.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia means that the hip socket is shallow or that the hip joint is the wrong shape and fails to completely support the femoral head. A joint that is the wrong shape or shallow will wear out faster than one that has a more normal shape. The smooth surface of the joint has a thin layer of cartilage that can’t be repaired or re-grown by the body. This cartilage surface needs to last a lifetime, or stiffness and pain can occur as the joint wears out.

Is there a cure for hip dysplasia?

Doctors often compare the joint surface to the tread on a tire that wears down with use. When the tire is out of balance, the tread will wear out faster. Once the tread is gone, the tire needs to be replaced. Sometimes the surface of the tire has uneven wear with large areas intact. If the tires are rotated before the tire wears out completely, then the life of the tire will be extended because the remaining tread is in a better position for use. In humans, when the joint surface is completely worn out, then total hip replacement is the only answer and special techniques are needed to replace a dysplastic hip. Click here to learn more about a total hip replacement options. However, in the early stages of arthritis, some of the cartilage surface may be intact and hip preservation surgery is possible to re-align the joint. Re-aligning the joint allows the remaining joint surface to be in a better position for weight-bearing. Click here to learn more about hip preservation surgery options.

Sometimes the abnormal shape of the joint leads to tears in the soft rim of the socket because of instability. This rim is called the labrum and a torn labrum can sometimes be repaired by arthroscopic surgery. Athletes with trauma causing a torn labrum often benefit from arthroscopic surgery. However, arthroscopic surgery is rarely a long-term solution for hip dysplasia unless the underlying bone deformity is corrected at the same time as labral repair. Click here to learn more about arthroscopic surgery options.

Are there non-surgical treatments available for adult hip dysplasia?

Unfortunately, non-surgical methods rarely provide a lasting solution for hip dysplasia because the joint itself is not properly formed. Click here to learn about hip preservation and alternative options. However, certain lifestyle changes can be made to preserve the life of the hip joint. Using a cane, or losing weight are the best ways to decrease the pressure on your hip joint. A little weight loss can make big difference. Just five pounds of weight loss can relieve almost 15 pounds of pressure on your hip joint because of the way muscles generate force during walking or climbing stairs.


Continue to Adult Signs and Symptoms »

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