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The hip is a ball and socket joint that comprises the acetabulum of the pelvis, with the head of the femur sitting inside.

Hip dysplasia is a common joint disease, where the acetabulum does not have adequate coverage of the femoral head. Not everyone with dysplasia will develop symptoms or have problems, but it can be a source of pain, instability, weakness and effect quality of life.

Adult symptoms of hip dysplasia vary, but commonly people experience:

  • pain in the groin, front, side or back of the hip

  • feeling of instability

  • clicking, catching

  • can start with increased range of motion at the hip, but eventually there may be a reduction in range of motion if joint changes occur over time.

Activities such as walking, running, squatting and even sitting may be problematic.

There are many other structures around the hip area that can cause similar symptoms to hip dysplasia, so often it can take some time to get a diagnosis confirmed if it has not been picked up at a young age.

The cause of developmental dysplasia arises during the development of the fetus and also as infants. Due to the instability caused by less acetabulum coverage, babies may have problems such as subluxation and dislocation. When babies are suspected of dysplasia they will initially get an ultrasound to help confirm diagnosis.

For adults, an x-ray of the pelvis is an important way to get a diagnosis, combined with clinical assessment and your symptoms. A physiotherapist is trained to be able to make this clinical diagnosis.

Treatment for dysplasia is highly individualised for each person. First line treatment involves physiotherapy such as getting educated about how to reduce symptoms, activity modification if required, and strengthening of the hip muscles.

There are more invasive treatments such as labral repairs, osteotomy and joint replacement for cases who do not respond to first line management. Many individuals live with great function and quality of life despite having hip dysplasia.


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