Can an Osteotomy Correct My Hip Dysplasia?

Can an Osteotomy Correct My Hip Dysplasia?

You have several types of joints in your body that fit together in specific ways. A “ball-and-socket” configuration describes a bone with a rounded ball on the top that sits in a curved, cup-like socket. This structure provides extensive freedom of movement, as you can see in one of the most prominent examples of these joints — the hip.

When you have hip dysplasia, this joint is either the wrong shape or it’s too narrow, so the socket in your pelvis doesn’t completely cover the ball at the top of your thigh bone. This misalignment leads to a variety of hip problems, including:

Hip dysplasia is also the leading cause of arthritis in this joint for people under age 50 and is the reason for 5-10% of all total hip replacements in the United States. An osteotomy can correct hip dysplasia, preserve your natural joint structure, and help you avoid a hip replacement procedure in the future. 

Eric E. Johnson, MD, offered these insights into why hip dysplasia causes problems and how he can treat it with osteotomy at his practice in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Why hip dysplasia causes problems

It’s hard to ignore hip dysplasia because it involves weight-bearing bones. As a result, even mild forms of the condition leave the hip joint under more stress than normal. Without treatment, this ongoing strain causes cartilage in the area to break down, and the bones start rubbing together.

Most people with hip dysplasia have the condition from birth. It occurs in approximately one in 1,000 babies and, when detected early, doctors can often treat it with soft braces and physical therapy. However, cases can go undetected until adolescence or adulthood.

Signs of hip dysplasia vary based on age. In infants, it’s common to notice one leg that seems longer and a hip less flexible during diaper changes. When they begin walking, a limp can develop. By the time they become teenagers or young adults, they often experience pain or instability in the hip.

Hip dysplasia can occur in anyone, but it’s seen most often in families, females, and firstborn and breech-born babies.

How an osteotomy can help

As we mentioned above, the earlier you receive a hip dysplasia diagnosis, the better to avoid serious complications and joint damage. But, even if the joint disorder wasn’t corrected with a brace or harness in infancy, Dr. Johnson can help.

An osteotomy offers the best solution for correcting hip dysplasia in most cases. There are different types of osteotomies, but they each involve cutting and re-shaping the bones forming your hip joint to improve alignment and function. 

One common approach for treating hip dysplasia involves an acetabular osteotomy. During this procedure, Dr. Johnson cuts the acetabular — or the pelvic bone surrounding your hip socket. Then, he repositions the pelvic bone to restore alignment and function, stabilizing them in place with plates, screws, or pins. If gaps remain between the bones, Dr. Johnson inserts bone graft material.

An osteotomy usually requires a short hospital stay. Physical therapy begins immediately, but you typically need to limit weight-bearing activities and use crutches for six to eight weeks. Most people return to school or work within three months and more athletic activity in 6-12 months.

As your body heals following the osteotomy, new bone forms in any of the cuts Dr. Johnson made, helping to secure your re-shaped joints permanently in place. And 90% of people who correct hip dysplasia with an osteotomy experience long-term pain relief and improved quality of life.

Do you or someone you love have hip dysplasia? Schedule a consultation with Eric E. Johnson, MD, to learn about your treatment options by calling 424-309-1492 today.

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