Hip dysplasia is also known as DDH (developmental dislocation of the hip) and it typically affects children. In some cases just one hip is affected and in other instances both hips may suffer from it.
Hip dysplasia can often be recognized by symptoms such as legs that are different length, uneven skin folds on the thighs, less flexibility or mobility on one side, toe walking, limping, and waddling with a duck-like gait. It’s caused by an abnormal formation of your hip joint when the head of the femur isn’t fully set in the acetabulum. In additions, ligaments that surround the hip joint can also become stretched or loosened due to the condition. The severity of the joint instability varies from person to person, but it can get worse as you get older and may lead to osteoarthritis and/or chronic pain when you reach early adulthood.
Medical studies have shown that the condition typically affects a person’s left hip, is more common in females, as well as in babies that are born in the breech position and first-born babies. However, hip dysplasia can also surface in older children as well as in adults in their 20s. While some patients may need to undergo surgery to repair the problem, others can keep mild cases under control by visiting a physiotherapist. Physiotherapy is also a main component of rehabilitation after surgery has been performed.
Physiotherapy Treatment for Hip Dysplasia
Patients require skilled therapy once the hip joint has been corrected through surgery. The first stage is known as gait training where patients are taught how to use a walker and/or crutches. After approximately six to eight weeks the muscles will have reattached and the bone will be healed. The condition will then need to be treated by a physiotherapist with procedures such as heat, ice, massage therapy, ultrasound and possibly traction. Light strengthening exercises will be prescribed to help mobilize your hip and regain its range of motion. At this stage it’s important for the therapist to identify any weak muscles and work on them.
However, patients with hip dysplasia may also be advised to visit a physiotherapist before undergoing surgery. A therapist can prescribe exercises which should make the surgery and rehabilitation process more tolerable. Repetitive motions such as cycling ad swimming will benefit the hip joint and make things easier afterwards. The stronger joint and surrounding area is before the surgery the easier the rehab should be. This is also an ideal time for patients to get used to using a walker or crutches and for the therapist to let them know what exactly they’ll be facing in the weeks after the procedure.
The treatment of the condition depends on the age of the patient, but the goal is to make sure the hip joint is in the right position. Some very young patients may have their hip placed in a cast or harness to keep the hip in its proper position. They will usually undergo surgery when older to keep it there and once again be placed in a cast. After going through the rehab period, a physiotherapist will help strengthen the muscles since they act as a shock absorber for the hip joint. Also, you may be put on an exercise program to lose weight since there will be less stress placed on the hip, which will also result in less discomfort. Physical therapy may increase both flexibility and strength around the hip joint and can help teach your body how to better align itself to decrease stress.
If you suffer from any type of hip pain it’s recommended that you visit a medical professional to have it diagnosed. They will then let you know what needs to be done to treat it and how physiotherapy can help you return to your normal activities as soon as possible. If you would like to learn more about physiotherapy for hip dysplasia, you can contact Spectrum Physiotherapy of Newmarket here.