DDH is a condition where a baby's ball and socket hip joint does not fit together as it should. There may be a complete dislocation of the femoral head and the acetabulum (socket of the hip bone) or there may be a partial dislocation, also known as a 'subluxation'. A failure to diagnose DDH during early childhood can result in disabilities in later life.
All new-born babies should undergo a comprehensive new-born physical examination within their first 72 hours of life. Part of this is to check the baby's hips for DDH, normally done by laying the baby on their back and gently moving the legs apart. If there is a 'clunk', it may indicate that the femoral head and acetabulum are detached.
A six to eight-week GP examination (also known as the Child Health Surveillance) should also include a check of the baby's hips.
Common signs of DDH include:
- inability to sit independently
- 'dragging' one leg when crawling (commando crawling)
- walking late and/or walking with a pronounced limp
- appearing excessively unstable when walking and difficulty with ascending and descending stairs
- stiff hip or hips – i.e. a restriction of movement in both hips or in one hip compared to the other
- leg length discrepancy
- abnormal gait
- asymmetrical thigh creases
Late diagnosis of hip dysplasia can lead to various problems in later life, including increased pain and surgery during childhood (usually an osteotomy) and subsequent surgery to remove the plates and screws. As the child gets older they may suffer from premature arthritis and require hip replacement surgery. There will likely be a decrease in tolerance for exercise. There may be a requirement for care and assistance with daily tasks as the child becomes an adult.
As a general rule of thumb, if a child is diagnosed before the age of two, effective treatment should allow normal development of the hips.
Our medical negligence lawyers are expert in pursuing hip dysplasia claims to access funding for specialist care and treatment and to prepare for potential physical difficulties in late life.
Browse our recent hip dysplasia cases.
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