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Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) can develop during a child’s first year of life in addition to being present at birth. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint. The “ball” is the top end of the femur, which is called the head of the femur. The “socket” is the acetabulum, which is part of the pelvis. The head of the femur (ball) should fit firmly in the acetabulum (socket). In DDH, the socket is shallow and the ball cannot fit tightly into the socket. Because the ball cannot fit tightly, the hip can be described as loose or having instability. The amount of looseness can vary.
There are three types of developmental dysplasia of the hip:
Certain factors may increase a child's risk of developmental dysplasia of the hip, including:
A doctor can diagnose DDH by doing a physical exam. Doctors at Riley at IU Health look for:
The doctor will also move both hips in different directions to see if he or she can feel the ball move in or out of the socket. If your child is younger than 3 or 4 months old, an ultrasound may be recommended to see the position of the ball within the socket. If your child is older than 3 or 4 months old, X-ray may be used.
Your child's doctor may use a Pavlik harness to treat developmental dysplasia of the hip, depending on your baby’s age at the time of diagnosis. A Pavlik harness is a special brace that is made out of soft materials. The purpose of the harness is to keep the ball in the socket and help with hip socket formation. The Pavlik harness has a unique design: It allows for diaper changes without having to take the entire harness off.
Instructions for using a Pavlik harness include:
Sometimes Pavlik harness treatment is not effective, or the child is too old for Pavlik harness treatment. If this is true for your child, the doctor will talk to you about other treatment options.
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