There are a variety of problems which might affect the formation of a child’s hips. Some of these problems are congenital, whereas others are developmental. Often orthopaedic find it difficult to identify the exact cause of certain problems like hip dysplasia or developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). Hip dysplasia can develop in a child at the time of birth, after the birth, or during childhood. The symptoms of the hip abnormality vary from one child to another.
The common symptoms of hip dysplasia are mismatching legs, less movement in the affected leg, and the affected leg appearing shorter than the normal leg. The doctors often examine both legs of a new born baby to ensure that they are stable. They even examine the child’s legs consistently over next few years to identify any hip abnormality. Also, the skilled orthopaedic surgeons always treat the hip dysplasia non-surgically. However, the surgical and non-surgical treatment methods for hip dysplasia differ according to the age of the child.
Up to 6 Months of Age
When the child is less than 6 months of age, the orthopaedic surgeons treat hip dysplasia by making him wear a pavlik harness. The pavlik harness is designed specifically for babies. While wearing the soft harness, the baby can move his legs smoothly. But the harness keeps the baby’s hips aligned properly. Also, it pulls and flexes the baby’s legs away from the middle. The proper positioning of hips facilitates hip joint development and reduces hip abnormalities.
From 6 to 18 Months of Age
Despite being the simplest non-surgical treatment for hip dysplasia, the pavlik braces work in 90% of cases. In case the treatment fails to reduce hip abnormality, the orthopaedic surgeons use body cast or brace once the child is older than 6 months. The brace or body cast is designed specially to hold the child’s hipbones in the hip socket. The orthopaedic surgeons always use the cast or harness to manipulate the child’s joints. But they also perform operation in certain cases to place the thighbone in the hip socket.
Older than 18 Months
Often orthopaedic surgeons treat hip dysplasia surgically if the child is older than 18 months. They perform surgery to change the shape of hipbones, thighbone and pelvis. The surgery further aligns the child’s hipbones, thighbone, and pelvis properly and securely. Once the surgery is over, the child has to wear a special body cast on his legs and hips for 3 months. The orthopaedic surgeon removes the special body cast after 3 months, and makes the child wear a plastic-and-metal brace. The plastic-and-metal brace holds and aligns the hips properly till the hip socket is normalized. The orthopaedic surgeon will check the x-ray to check if the child’s hip socket is normal.
On the whole, the cause and symptoms of hip dysplasia vary from one child to another. The experienced orthopaedic surgeons always try to treat the hip abnormality non-surgically. But they have to treat hip dysplasia surgically if the non-surgical treatment methods do not work. Hence, the treatment methods also differ based on the symptoms and severity of the hip abnormality.