5 Signs of Hip Malunion

It makes sense that a bone won’t heal properly when you don’t seek professional treatment for a break. However, it’s also possible for bones to heal in abnormal positions after receiving medical care. That’s because broken bones require certain things to heal correctly, including:

Meeting all of these conditions leads to bones that heal in the correct position, a state known as union. When the bones don’t heal at all, you experience nonunion. And, if your bones heal in an abnormal position, you have malunion.

As a skilled orthopaedic trauma specialist in Westwood, Los Angeles, Dr. Eric E. Johnson provides expert solutions for hip malunions to realign bones that heal incorrectly. Here are five signs your hip didn’t heal properly and how Dr. Johnson can help.

1. Pain and discomfort

The most obvious sign that bones have healed incorrectly involves pain in the affected hip. This symptom develops because the new bone positions aren’t anatomically ideal, leading to constant discomfort and even deformity.

2. Gait abnormalities

If you’ve noticed a change in the way you walk after a break or joint replacement, it could be because of malunion. This issue arises because a hip that heals out of alignment can cause the affected leg to become significantly shorter. And, when you have legs of unequal length, it also causes weakness in hip abduction muscles. Both of these complications can lead to changes in how you walk.

3. Loss of motion

When bones heal, new bone cells grow and fill the break, closing the fracture. Unfortunately, if your bones aren’t in the proper position as they heal, it can leave them looking bent. This altered alignment can interfere with movement, especially in the hip joint.

4. Reduced function

Your hips are major weight-bearing joints — in fact, they’re two of the largest in your entire body. As a result, having abnormal alignment in your hip leads to problems in the whole leg. Not only can this include intense pain when bearing any weight, but you can also have issues rotating, straightening, or extending your leg. 

5. Inflammation and infection

Malunions affect more than bones; they can also cause problems with the surrounding tissue. This complication develops when misaligned bones damage surrounding tissue, leading to swelling, inflammation, and infection.

Treating hip malunions

If you have any signs of hip malunion, Dr. Johnson can help. 

First, Dr. Johnson discusses your symptoms, reviews your health history, and performs a clinical exam. This appointment often includes evaluating your hip, testing your range of motion, and measuring pain response. Based on his findings, Dr. Johnson could order imaging tests, like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.

After reaching a diagnosis and determining the severity of your condition, Dr. Johnson could recommend various treatments. In some cases, you can relieve minor malunions by using shoe lifts that address leg length discrepancies or bracing, which provides support and improves leg positioning. 

Dr. Johnson also corrects hip malunions with osteotomy. During this procedure, Dr. Johnson can lengthen, shorten, or realign your bone by cutting and reshaping it to restore function in the area.

If you have hip pain, don’t wait to find help. Contact Eric E. Johnson, MD, in Westwood, Los Angeles, California, by calling 424-309-1492 today.

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