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Health & Baby

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Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip - Topic Overview

How is DDH diagnosed?

It is usually diagnosed during a newborn's physical exam. A doctor will move the baby's legs and look and listen for signs of a problem.

If your baby is older, your doctor may diagnose DDH during the physical exam at a well-baby checkup. But it may be hard to diagnose in a baby more than 1 to 3 months old. That's because the only outward sign may be a hip joint that is less mobile or flexible than normal.

If the doctor suspects DDH but the results of a physical exam aren't clear, your child might need to have an imaging test of the hip joint, such as an ultrasound or X-ray.

How is it treated?

Your child's hip socket won't form and grow properly if the ball at the top of the thighbone doesn't fit snugly in the joint. So treatment focuses on moving the thighbone into its normal position and keeping it in place while the joint grows.

Your child may need:

  • A Pavlik harness camera.gif. This device will probably be tried first if your baby is younger than 6 months. It holds your baby's legs in a spread position with the hips bent. The harness is able to make the hips normal most of the time.
  • A hard cast, known as a spica cast camera.gif. This is used for older babies. The cast keeps the hips in the proper position. It may have a bar between the legs camera.gif to make it stronger.

Other forms of treatment that may be needed include:

  • Braces or splints. These may be used instead of a Pavlik harness or spica cast. Or they may be used after surgery.
  • Surgery. In some cases, this may be needed to correct a deformed thighbone or hip socket. A child who has surgery will probably need to wear a spica cast to position the hip joint until it heals.
  • Physical therapy. A child who has been in a spica cast may need to do exercises to regain movement and build muscle strength in the legs.

If treatment is successful, your child probably won't have any further hip problems. But get your child's hips checked regularly to make sure they continue to grow and develop normally.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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