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What Is Dysplasia?

Your hips are ball-and-socket joints, so in order for them to function optimally, the ball needs to fit neatly into, and be fully supported by, the socket. If the socket didn’t develop properly or it’s too shallow because of wear and tear — you can experience problems (in both childhood and adulthood) that we categorize under hip dysplasia.

Answering the call, the team of highly skilled orthopaedic specialists at Western Orthopaedics includes Dr. Brian White, who’s devoted his career to solving hip problems of all kinds, including those that involve hip dysplasia.

To help you better understand this fairly common problem, let’s take a closer look at hip dysplasia.

A shallow problem

The first thing to understand about hip dysplasia is that it’s a catchall term for problems with shallow sockets.

In many cases, the dysplasia is present at birth or early childhood, as the socket doesn’t develop properly. To put some numbers to this problem, 1 in 10 infants worldwide are born with hip instability and 1 in 500 are born with completely dislocated hips.

When it comes to whether problems develop because of the dysplasia, it’s worth noting two statistics: 1) One in 100 infants is treated for hip dysplasia; and 2) Adult hip dysplasia is nine times more common than dysplasia in infants.

The primary reason behind this disparity is developmental dysplasia isn’t always found or noticed until later in life. In many cases, the dysplasia isn’t severe enough to cause early problems, but the shallow socket causes the joint to wear out more quickly, which is why dysplasia is more likely to be found among adults.

In addition to arthritis, hip dysplasia can lead to problems with dislocation and instability, as well as labral tears.

Determining whether you have hip dysplasia

Since many problems with hip dysplasia don’t surface until later in life, your shallow socket may have gone unnoticed until it starts to cause pain or discomfort. If you’re experiencing hip pain, we review your symptoms and then turn to advanced imaging technology, which gives us a better idea about any structural problems, like a too-shallow socket.

Treating hip dysplasia

Dr. White is a big believer in hip preservation in order to prolong the lifespan of your hip, but these techniques depend upon the extent of the damage.

As we mentioned, hip dysplasia can lead to a torn labrum, which is the cartilage that surrounds the rim of the socket in your hip. In these cases, Dr. White may recommend arthroscopic labral reconstruction to treat your labral tear, which should alleviate the discomfort and better support your joint.

If we find that the damage is fairly severe, we may recommend hip replacement, a technique in which we replace the damaged parts of your hip joints. More specifically, the hip prosthesis includes a stem that goes into your femur (thighbone), a metal or ceramic ball, and a cup that fits into your socket.

If you’re having problems with one or both of your hips, it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later so we can take the steps necessary to restore function and pain-free movement to the joint(s). To get started, contact one of our two offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to set up a consultation.

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