Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip
Treatment for developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) focuses on moving your child's upper thighbone (femur) into its normal position and keeping it in place while the Reference joint Opens New Window grows. The hip socket will not form and grow properly if the ball at the top of the thighbone (femoral head) does not fit snugly in the joint.
- Sometimes in babies with signs of DDH, the thighbone and hip socket start to grow as they normally would, without treatment. But it is hard to predict whether this will happen.
- Hips that are fully dislocated or that can be dislocated easily by certain movements are usually treated as soon as they are detected.
Treatment for DDH usually includes one of the following:
- Reference Pavlik harness. This device usually is tried first if your baby is younger than 6 months. The harness has fabric straps and fasteners that fit around your baby's chest, shoulders, and legs. The harness holds the baby's legs in a spread position, with the hips bent so that the thighs are out to the sides. Your doctor monitors the harness's effectiveness through regular exams and imaging tests. The Reference Pavlik harness Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window successfully makes the hip normal most of the time. But if your doctor doesn't see improvement in the hip after about 3 to 4 weeks, the harness is removed and other treatment options are explored.
- Spica cast. This body cast is made of plaster or fiberglass to form a hard covering over the waist, hips, and legs. To make it stronger, the Reference cast may have a bar between the legs Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. Or the Reference cast may not have a bar Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window. Your child needs Reference general anesthesia Opens New Window when this cast is put on him or her.
Other forms of treatment
- Braces and splints. Your child may wear a brace or splint as a first treatment for DDH instead of a Pavlik harness or spica cast. In some cases a brace or splint follows another type of treatment, such as surgery. In these cases, the device is used to help support the hips and legs as they heal. In particular, children with DDH who also have other problems with their feet or knees may benefit from wearing a brace.
- Surgery. Few children need osteotomy surgery to correct a deformed thighbone or hip socket. This procedure repositions the thighbone, usually after cleaning the socket of fat deposits. If needed, surgery may include reshaping the socket or thighbone. After surgery, your child probably will need to wear a spica cast to position the hip joint until it completely heals.
- Physical therapy. An older child may need to do Reference physical therapy Opens New Window exercises to restore movement of the legs and strengthen muscles after being in a spica cast.
- Traction. A very rarely used treatment for DDH, traction involves weights, pulleys, and ropes to gradually stretch and loosen the hip joint's muscles and tissues while holding the bones in their correct position. This allows doctors to place the ball at the top of the thighbone (femoral head) back into the hip socket. Traction may also help prevent problems with the blood supply to the joint. Typically, traction takes about 2 to 4 weeks. The treatment can be set up in a hospital or at home. Afterward, your child will probably wear a spica cast.
What to think about
If your child has had successful treatment for DDH, he or she will likely not have any further hip problems. But have your child examined regularly to make sure his or her hips continue to grow and develop normally.
The longer an unstable, dislocatable, or dislocated hip persists, the more likely it is to cause long-term problems that are hard to treat. For this reason, it is important to diagnose and treat DDH early.
Follow-up medical checkups are very important for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment and preventing complications. For example, damage sometimes occurs to the blood supply of the femoral head from treatment. If not detected and treated early, this damage can lead to the destruction of bone cells (avascular osteonecrosis). The bone may then grow abnormally, become deformed, and later develop Reference osteoarthritis Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference March 12, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics