Synergy Health Partners

Hip Dysplasia


Hip dysplasia, also known as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), is a condition where the hip joint does not develop properly. The socket (acetabulum) is too shallow, allowing the ball (femoral head) to dislocate or be unstable. It can range from a mild instability to a complete dislocation of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can be present at birth or develop during childhood.


The exact cause of hip dysplasia is not always clear, but several factors can contribute to its development:

  • Genetics: Family history of hip dysplasia increases the risk.
  • Breech Position: Babies born in a breech position are more likely to have hip dysplasia.
  • First-Born Status: First-born children are at a higher risk due to the relatively tight conditions in the uterus.
  • Female Gender: Girls are more commonly affected than boys.
  • Swaddling Practices: Improper swaddling that forces the legs straight can increase the risk of hip dysplasia.


Symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary depending on the age of the individual and the severity of the condition:

  • Infants:

    • Asymmetry in the skin folds of the thigh or buttocks.
    • Limited range of motion in one or both hips.
    • A hip that clicks or pops with movement.
    • Leg length discrepancy.
  • Children:

    • Limping or waddling gait.
    • Hip pain or discomfort.
    • Reduced mobility or reluctance to walk.
    • Uneven leg lengths.
  • Adolescents and Adults:

    • Chronic hip pain, often felt in the groin or side of the hip.
    • Hip instability or feeling of the hip “giving way.”
    • Early onset arthritis in the hip joint.


Diagnosis involves a combination of clinical evaluation and imaging studies:

  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms, risk factors, and a physical examination to check for hip instability or dislocation.
  • Imaging Studies:
    • Ultrasound: Commonly used in infants to visualize the hip joint.
    • X-rays: Used in older children and adults to assess the hip structure and detect abnormalities.


Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the age of the patient and the severity of the condition:

  • Infants:

    • Pavlik Harness: A soft brace that holds the baby’s hips in the correct position to allow proper development. Typically worn for 6-12 weeks.
    • Closed Reduction and Casting: If the Pavlik harness is ineffective, the hip may be manually repositioned and held in place with a cast.
  • Children:

    • Closed or Open Reduction: Surgery to reposition the hip joint, followed by casting.
    • Osteotomy: Surgical procedure to reshape the hip socket for better coverage of the femoral head.
  • Adolescents and Adults:

    • Physical Therapy: Exercises to strengthen the hip muscles and improve joint stability.
    • Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to manage symptoms.
    • Surgical Treatment: Procedures such as periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) to reorient the hip socket, or total hip replacement in severe cases with advanced arthritis.


The prognosis for hip dysplasia varies depending on the age at diagnosis and the effectiveness of treatment. Early detection and appropriate intervention can lead to excellent outcomes with normal hip function. Delayed treatment or untreated hip dysplasia can result in chronic pain, hip instability, and early onset arthritis.


Preventing hip dysplasia involves:

  • Proper Swaddling Techniques: Ensuring the baby’s legs can move freely to avoid excessive pressure on the hips.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Early screening and regular check-ups for infants, especially those with risk factors such as breech birth or family history of hip dysplasia.


Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the development and stability of the hip joint. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing long-term complications and ensuring proper hip function. If you suspect hip dysplasia in yourself or your child, consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan. With appropriate care, most individuals with hip dysplasia can achieve good outcomes and lead active, healthy lives.