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Hip Displaysia: The #1 Cause of Hip Arthritis Under 50

Posted on December 13, 2023

It is important to get to the bottom of hip pain because hip dysplasia is the number one cause of arthritis in women less than 50 years old and often it leads to pain and the eventual necessity for early hip replacement. Hip Dysplasia is a condition that is often diagnosed in babies at birth or during exams as they are infants and it can be treated non-operatively usually at that age. However, if diagnosed after the age of two, often surgery is necessary to correct the problem and properly align the bones of the hip joint. Milder cases of hip dysplasia may start causing symptoms as a teenager or young adult when children gain weight through puberty and begin more aggressive athletic pursuits. Today, 9 out of every 10 cases of hip dysplasia are diagnosed during adolescence or early adulthood.

What is Dysplasia?

When the socket does not form in the normal shape and orientation as an infant it is termed dysplasia. Normally, the hip socket (the acetabulum) forms directly over the ball. In patients with dysplasia, the socket is tilted, shallow, and not properly aligned or covering the ball. When the hip socket is misshapen, the ball either rides on the edge of the cup, damaging the labrum, or (in severe cases) is also able to ‘slip out’ of the joint causing pain and cartilage wear.

Over time, this may cause chronic pain and lead to the development of premature arthritis. This happens because the smooth layer of cartilage that lines the joint experiences excess wear and tear in patients with dysplasia because of the abnormal anatomy and forces.

As hip dysplasia damages the lining of the joint, and it can also hurt the soft cartilage – the labrum- that lines the socket portion of the hip joint and this is what leads to a labral tear of the hip. In the normal hip, the labrum is on the edge of the socket. In the dysplastic hip, because the socket is shallow and tilted, the labrum is directly over the ball. The force that the ball exerts on the socket when you stand, run, jump, is far greater than the force is directed at the socket in the normal hip. This is why a in a patient with dysplasia, the labrum takes on more force and is more likely to be damaged and need repair.

Symptoms of Dysplasia

  • Hip pain caused by dysplasia is frequently associated with activities.
  • Often people describe the pain as coming from deep inside the groin, but it can also radiate from the side or the back,
  • Over time, the pain generally becomes more frequent or the intensity more severe.
  • In some cases, people with this condition may develop a mild limp if they do not address the cause.
  • In severe cases, one can also develop a leg length difference.