Developing Happy Hips

Written by Osteopath, Dr. Annabel Silver

Developmental dysplasia of the hip is when the ball and socket of the hip joint does not grow in the normal way meaning they don't fit together properly. This is often present at birth and is detected with a physical examination and ultrasound or x-ray investigation. When babies are screened and hip dysplasia is detected early, preferably before 3 months of age, they have the best outcomes from treatment. Sometimes a diagnosis is not made until children are older, perhaps when starting to walk or when they complain of joint pain as a child.

Healthy Hips Australia recommends that all children should have their hips checked at their nurse or GP appointments up until 3.5 years of age. As osteopaths we look for asymmetry of the hips and legs for clues that something may not be growing or moving correctly and will refer you to your GP for further investigation.

There are several risk factors for hip dysplasia, including family history and breech position in utero. Incorrect swaddling technique is one risk factor that can be avoided. For all babies it is important to practice "healthy hip swaddling", which means not wrapping the legs tight together, but allowing room for the legs to move apart when swaddled.

My own baby had hip dysplasia and was treated with a hip brace at the Royal Children's hospital. It is always daunting when your child is diagnosed with a medical condition and needs intervention. It can feel like your whole world revolves around their diagnosis. Fortunately babies and children are far more resilient than their parents and adapt to anything that life throws their way! My little Avi is now a hip healthy, wildly active and strong girl due to her condition being picked up early and receiving great care.