A few weeks ago, we went to the pediatrician for a checkup and the doctor suggested that we check my daughter for hip dysplasia. Also called Developmental Dysplasia of the hip, this problem is present from birth, and occurs when the hip is able to slip in and out of joint. (LpCh.org) Although my daughter exhibited many of the symptoms used in diagnosing hip dysplasia, an x-ray indicated that she did not have it. Instead, it seems that one of her femur bones is smaller than the other. All the same, I now feel a bit nervous about the whole ordeal. What if she does have it an the doctor just missed it? How would they go about treating hip dysplasia if they found out that she did have it? What if they don’t find it until later? How can Developmental Dysplasia of the hip be treated then?
These questions caused me to do some more research on Developmental Dysplasia of the hip, this time focusing on how it can be treated. One reason I was so anxious about the whole business is that if treated early, hip displasia in babies can be easily remedied. The younger the child, the easier to properly position the hip joint, and the better chance of full recovery. (About.com)
The pavlik harness is usually suggested as the first stage of treatment in DDH. (Hip-baby.org) This is the least invasive correction method. The harness simply holds the babies legs in the correct “frog like” position. The harness is usually worn full time for up to 8 weeks, and then half time for several weeks after that. (LpCh.org) This harness may be a bit irratating, but it has a 90% success rate. (About.com) Time is of the essence though…pavlik harnesses are typically used for infants from birth to six months.
After six months, children may need to be put under general anesthesia to correct hip dysplasia. For those keeping track, my daughter is now six months old. That puts us right on the edge. Being under general anesthesia will allow an orthopedic surgeon to position the hip, (About.com) and put the baby in a brace or Spica cast (Hip-baby). Although anesthesia is involved, this is only a semi-invasive procedure because it is not actual surgery. Obviously, a brace or cast is considered a step up from the harness, but while the cast allows much less movement, the brace may be able to come off for baths or diaper changes. (Hip-baby) The cast may be worn for three to six months (LpCH.org)
After one year, children with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip may require actual surgery to reposition their hips. (About.com) This surgery may be a reduction, which surgically puts the hip in the correct position, or it may involve an osteotomy, which requires the use of screws to position the hip (Hip-baby) After the surgery the child will be put in one of the Spica casts. (Hip-Baby)
The outlook for children whose hip dysplasia is treated early is very good. For children who are not diagnosed, they may end up with different leg lengths, hip pain, trouble walking, and even early arthritis. (LpCH.org) Although this is a treatable issue, it is very scary to think about, and I will have the doctor recheck my daughter’s x-rays and monitor her hips at her next appointment. I would rather be paranoid and get everything checked out now than come up against something we can’t fix later. If your family is dealing with DDH, I hope some of the references I found will be of use to you. You can find out more about treatments and options for babies with hip displasia by following the links in my references section. You and your doctor will be able to work together to decide what is best for your baby, and it is important to be informed of the options.