When you have a malunion, it means that your bones didn’t heal in an ideal position. You can have this problem anywhere in your body, but the hip is a common location.
More than 300,000 Americans 65 and older end up hospitalized for hip fractures every year, most often as the result of a fall. On top of that, doctors perform more than 450,000 total hip replacements in the United States each year. That’s a lot of hips healing on an annual basis!
Unfortunately, when hip bones heal incorrectly, you can experience a variety of problems, including:
Eric E. Johnson, MD, brings his advanced training as an orthopedic trauma specialist to the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. He shared these insights into getting help for a hip malunion.
If you’ve had a broken bone or hip replacement, several issues could be to blame for your persistent pain, such as:
Plus, when you have malunion, your symptoms usually become more pronounced after you heal, so it’s crucial to find a specialist who can recognize the signs.
During your consultation, Dr. Johnson discusses your symptoms and examines the affected hip — and compares it to your “normal” hip for comparison. He also reviews your medical history, especially your initial hip problems and the treatment you underwent. Then, Dr. Johnson observes the way you walk and checks your leg for other discrepancies, like changes in length or rotation.
Finally, Dr. Johnson performs imaging studies, like X-rays, scanograms, or CT scans. These images can provide Dr. Johnson with a detailed view of your hip itself and how the bones have mended together.
Using all of this information, Dr. Johnson can recommend the best treatment strategy.
Dr. Johnson could suggest a variety of therapies, depending on the severity of your symptoms and condition.
In mild malunion cases, you could find relief with nonsurgical treatments, like a brace for added support or a shoe lift. Shoe lifts fit either inside or outside your footwear and work to correct discrepancies in leg length. However, when you have discomfort, pain, and reduced mobility, surgery could offer the best solution.
The surgical procedure typically used to correct malunion is known as an osteotomy. This procedure involves cutting or re-breaking the bone near the original injury or surgical site. Then, Dr. Johnson moves the bones back into proper alignment. You could also need internal or external fixation to hold them in place while they heal.
When you have internal fixation, Dr. Johnson places plates, rods, or screws inside your body to hold your hip bones in place. External fixation involves a metal frame on the outside of your leg that’s connected to your bones with wires and pins.
Dr. Johnson can also correct significant leg discrepancies to equalize the length of these limbs.
If you have hip pain from malunion, contact Eric E. Johnson, MD, to learn more about your treatment options. Call our office at 424-309-1492 to schedule an appointment today.