Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Developmental Dislocation (Dysplasia) of the Hip

Developmental Dislocation (Dysplasia) of the Hip (DDH) is a condition where the hip joint is improperly formed, leading to instability and potential dislocation of the femoral head from the acetabulum (hip socket). This condition can occur at birth or develop during early childhood. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to ensure proper hip development and function.

Common Symptoms

In Infants:

  • Asymmetry in leg length
  • Limited range of motion in the affected hip
  • Uneven skin folds on the thigh or buttocks
  • A clicking or popping sensation during hip movement

In Older Children:

  • Limping or waddling gait
  • Pain in the hip, groin, or knee
  • Hip instability or feeling of the hip slipping

Cause & Anatomy

  • Genetics: Family history of DDH increases the risk.
  • Breech Position: Babies born in the breech position are at higher risk.
  • Female Gender: DDH is more common in girls.
  • First-born Children: First-born babies are more commonly affected.
  • Oligohydramnios: Low levels of amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
  • Swaddling Practices: Tight swaddling of the legs in an extended position can contribute to DDH.


Physical Examination:

  • Ortolani Test: Gentle abduction of the hips to check for dislocation.
  • Barlow Test: Gentle adduction and posterior pressure to assess hip instability.

Imaging Studies:

  • Ultrasound: Preferred for infants under six months to visualize the hip joint.
  • X-rays: Used for older infants and children to assess bone development and hip joint alignment.


Routine Screening:

  • Newborns: Conduct routine physical examinations to check for signs of hip dysplasia, such as hip instability or limited range of motion.
  • Clinical Hip Examination: Utilize the Ortolani and Barlow tests during well-baby visits, especially for infants at higher risk (e.g., breech presentation, family history of DDH).

Ultrasound Screening:

  • Infants at Risk: Consider performing ultrasound screening for infants with risk factors (e.g., breech presentation, family history of DDH) to detect hip dysplasia early, ideally within the first few months of life.

Educating Parents:

  • Proper Swaddling Techniques: Educate parents and caregivers on proper swaddling techniques that allow for healthy hip development (e.g., hips slightly flexed and abducted).
  • Avoiding Extended Hip Position: Discourage prolonged positioning of infants with their legs stretched out straight.

Regular Pediatric Follow-ups:

  • Monitoring Development: Schedule regular pediatric visits to monitor hip development and detect any abnormalities early.
  • Early Intervention: Promptly refer infants with suspected hip dysplasia for further evaluation and treatment.

Environmental Modifications:

  • Avoid Tight Swaddling: Encourage using swaddles or clothing that allow for natural hip movement and flexibility.
  • Baby Carriers and Seats: Ensure that baby carriers and seats promote healthy hip positioning, with hips slightly flexed and abducted.

Genetic Counseling:

  • Family History: Offer genetic counseling for families with a history of DDH to assess the risk and provide guidance on preventive measures.

Awareness and Education:

  • Healthcare Professionals: Educate healthcare providers, including pediatricians and nurses, on the importance of early detection and management of DDH.
  • Community Education: Raise awareness among parents and caregivers about the signs, symptoms, and preventive strategies for DDH.

Importance of Early Intervention

  • Early detection and intervention are crucial for preventing complications associated with DDH, such as hip instability, dislocation, and long-term hip joint problems. Timely treatment, such as the use of a Pavlik harness or other orthopedic devices, can often correct hip dysplasia in infants without the need for surgery.

Monitoring and Follow-Up

  • Regular monitoring of hip development and follow-up visits with healthcare providers are essential to ensure that any signs of DDH are promptly addressed. This proactive approach can significantly improve outcomes and reduce the likelihood of long-term hip problems.
  • By implementing these preventive strategies and maintaining vigilance in screening and early intervention, healthcare providers and parents can help promote healthy hip development and reduce the incidence of developmental dislocation of the hip.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Pavlik Harness:

  • Purpose: Keeps the baby’s hips in a stable position to encourage proper development.
  • Usage: Typically worn for 6-12 weeks, with regular adjustments and monitoring.

Hip Abduction Braces:

  • Purpose: Used for infants who do not respond to the Pavlik harness.
  • Usage: Provides a more rigid support to maintain hip position.

Closed Reduction:

  • Procedure: Performed under anesthesia, the femoral head is manually positioned into the acetabulum.
  • Follow-Up: Hip spica cast is applied to maintain the hip position for several weeks.

Surgical Treatments

Open Reduction:

  • Procedure: Surgical repositioning of the femoral head into the acetabulum when non-surgical methods fail.
  • Follow-Up: Hip spica cast is applied post-surgery for stability.

Pelvic Osteotomy:

  • Procedure: Surgical reshaping of the pelvis to provide better coverage for the femoral head.
  • Usage: Often used for older children or severe cases.

Femoral Osteotomy:

  • Procedure: Surgical realignment of the femur to improve hip stability.
  • Usage: Combined with pelvic osteotomy in some cases.


  • Physical Therapy: Essential to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion post-treatment.
  • Regular Monitoring: Follow-up visits with imaging studies to ensure proper hip development.
  • Gradual Return to Activities: Carefully monitored to prevent re-dislocation or other complications.


What is the prognosis for children with DDH?
With early diagnosis and appropriate treatment, most children achieve normal hip function and development.

Can DDH be prevented?
While DDH cannot be entirely prevented, proper swaddling techniques and avoiding prolonged hip extension in infants can reduce the risk.

Is DDH painful for infants?
DDH is usually not painful for infants, but untreated DDH can lead to pain and functional problems later in life.

At what age should my child be screened for DDH?
Newborns are typically screened for DDH at birth and during well-baby visits. Ultrasound or X-ray may be used if DDH is suspected.

Can adults have DDH?
Yes, untreated or inadequately treated DDH can persist into adulthood, leading to hip pain, arthritis, and functional impairment.

How effective are non-surgical treatments for DDH?
Non-surgical treatments like the Pavlik harness are highly effective for infants when started early, usually within the first few months of life.

What happens if DDH is not treated?
Untreated DDH can lead to hip deformities, chronic pain, arthritis, and mobility issues later in life.

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