What Do We Mean By Hip Dysplasia?
Under normal circumstances, the hip joint which is a ball and socket joint has the ball which is the femur firmly fitted into the socket which is a part of the pelvic bone. In some instances, especially in newborn and infants this hip joint is not formed normally and the ball is loose around the socket making it prone to dislocations. This is what is called Hip Dysplasia. While in majority of the cases, hip Dysplasia is present at birth in certain cases this develops during the first year of the child’s life. This is precisely the reason why Hip Dysplasia is also known by the name of developmental dysplasia of the hip.
The exact cause as to why this abnormality develops in infants and newborns is not yet known but there are various factors which are mentioned below that may lead to an infant developing Hip Dysplasia.
Can Hip Dysplasia In Infants Be Cured?
The answer to this question is, yes, Hip Dysplasia in infants can definitely be cured in majority of the cases and the child can resume normal activities and participate in active play as and when he or she gets older. This condition is not painful in any way for the infant even though the hip may be dislocated. In majority of the cases, the diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia is made in time and a treatment is started to successfully treat the condition. It should be noted here that Hip Dysplasia is quite a common condition and a lot of infants have it at the time of birth or shortly after birth.
It should also be noted here hip Dysplasia is a condition which is not associated with any other underlying medical illness and hence parents need not worry of their child having some more serious underlying medical condition as a result of Hip Dysplasia.
What Are The Frontline Treatments For Hip Dysplasia In Infants?
Coming to how an infant with hip Dysplasia is treated, then the treatment plan is formulated by the treating physician depending on the age of the infant and the overall extent of the displacement.
The main aim of treatment is to hold the hip in the socket till the time the ligaments become normal and allow the socket and the bone to grow in their normal shape. Whenever there is a hip dislocation at the time of birth the ligaments of the infants are excessively stretched and the socket is shallow. Due to overstretching of the ligaments they tend to become loose and the cartilage which forms the socket also is quite flexible and soft which makes it difficult for the hips to stay in the socket resulting in Hip Displacement. Thus, if the hips are made to stay within the socket till the time the cartilage around the socket and the ligaments around the hips become hard and stiff enough to hold the hip in place then it becomes easier to treat the infant dealing with Hip Dysplasia.
If recurrent dislocations are ignored in early childhood then as the ligaments and cartilage around the socket becomes hard with age it requires more force to make the hip joint stay within the socket and makes it much difficult for the physician to treat this condition.
In some cases surgery may be required to correct Hip Dysplasia as the hip has been displaced for a long period of time and the changes that occur in the bone during this time frame need to be corrected and the bone realigned to treat hip Dysplasia.
In cases of infants, it is extremely easy for the dislocated hip of the infant to go back into the socket as the infant still has the mother’s hormones which relax the ligaments. Once the hip is relocated back into its normal position then a harness or a brace can be utilized to keep the hip in its normal position till the time the socket and the ligaments become more hard and stable.
A fixed abduction brace is the most common brace that is used for infants with Hip Dysplasia, although there are various types of harnesses that are also available for this purpose. The infant will have to be in the brace or the harness for at least a period of 10-12 weeks, although the device may be removed for hygiene purposes but the legs need to be kept apart so that the hip joint stays within the socket during the time when the infant is not in the brace or the harness. Once the hip becomes stable, the brace or the harness may be worn only on a part time basis for another six weeks and then it may be removed permanently. By this time, the hips of the infants are stable enough to keep the joint within the socket and the infant is said to be successfully treated from Hip Dysplasia.
It should be noted here that once the infant is put on a harness then it is absolutely necessary for the parents to take the child for regular followups to check the status of the hips and whether the hip joint and the socket is developing at an appropriate rate so that further episodes of hip dislocations can be prevented. For this purpose, at times radiological studies in the form of x-rays may also need to be done to check on the status of the Hip Dysplasia.
In cases where the hip remains dislocated even after the use of the harness for more than six weeks then other modes of treatments are considered for treat for Hip Dysplasia but in majority of the cases four weeks in a harness or abduction brace is good enough for an infant to be cured from hip Dysplasia.