Hip Dysplasia in Adults

Hiker on trail showing oakville Physiotherapy clinic

In Canada, hip dysplasia is often identified early. The hips of infants are assessed in well baby checks. If there is an issue detected, imaging may confirm and early treatment can begin.

Hip dysplasia can sometimes be missed and identified later in life. This may be in children who limp when walking or running. This may in adults who experience hip pain.

The hip joint is a ball in socket joint. It is a joint between the socket of the pelvis and the head of the femur, or thigh bone. In hip dysplasia, the socket may be shallow, or the ball may not fit well in the socket. Due to this improper fitting, the hip joint may be less stable. It may also take more “wear and tear”. This can lead to pain and early onset of osteoarthritis.

In hip dysplasia the weight supported by the hip is likely distributed over a smaller surface area. This load can cause the joint cartilage to take the load asymmetrically and become damaged.

Common symptoms in adult hip dysplasia:

  • Pain in the groin region (may or may not radiate into thigh
  • Pain in the side of the hip
  • Sensation and description of popping or catching in the hip with activity
  • Pain that worsens with certain activities
  • Limping
  • Increasing challenge with more strenuous activities (sports or life)
Physiotherapy for hockey players

Confirmation of hip dysplasia is through imaging. This is usually with an x-ray but occasionally MRI’s or CT scans are used.

The imaging will help direct the specialist in terms of treatments. Often more conservative measures of explored first.

More conservative measures for the treatment of hip dysplasia in adults includes:

  • Physiotherapy – Exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the hip and core. Joint mobilization and movement exercises to optimize motion of the hip. Activity modification for a time and graduated return to activity depending on the goals of the patient.
  • Massage Therapy (RMT) – In conjunction with Physio, helps with pain management. Massage can help optimize recovery from rehabilitation exercises. The massage therapist will also treat tight muscles in the hips and low back that may have been compensating for pain and walking / running patterns.
  • Acupuncture – to help with pain and inflammation. Our North Oakville Acupuncturist treats many people for arthritis related pain management.
  • Injections – Your sports medicine specialist, rheumatologist, orthopaedic surgeon may suggest something like a steroid injection (cortisone injection), to help with pain related to inflammation. This can be helpful if your pain is limiting you from participating effectively in your physiotherapy rehabilitation. For some people this is the last option in “conservative measures” before surgical interventions.

It takes time and effort to gain strength around a joint. This means that positive change happens over time. More consistent pain management should occur in the early stages of rehabilitation, but true strengthening and functional recovery with Physio happens over time with effort.

Showing a man doing video / virtual physio for injuries from a car accident / whiplash and low back pain.

This doesn’t mean that you will need to have treatment weekly. As your physio for hip dysplasia and hip pain progresses, your physiotherapy visits will likely space out. You will be asked to work on your rehab program at home independently if you are safe to do so. If you are not able to commit to a plan independently, it may be in your best interests to access follow-up physio with one of our North Oakville Physiotherapists more consistently.

Contact us to book in with one of our North Oakville Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and Acupuncturist to help get you started in your hip pain / hip dysplasia rehabilitation. We are able to treat the whole family at all ages and stages.