Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
Hip Problems in
Why does the doctor check my baby's
A few babies have hip problems that can lead to
dislocation of the hip bones. This means that the long bone in the upper leg
comes out of the hip socket (see Picture 1). If your baby has this problem, it's
important to find out early so it can be fixed.
A hip problem isn't always easy to see at first,
so your doctor will check your baby's hips at each well-baby check-up until your
baby can walk well.
How does the doctor check my baby's
The doctor checks the hips of a newborn baby by
gently pushing and pulling the thigh bones to see if they are loose in the hip
socket. When your baby grows older, the doctor checks to see if your baby's
thighs spread apart easily.
What if my doctor thinks there might
be a problem with my baby's hips?
If your baby is a newborn and the problem isn't
very serious, the doctor will probably check your baby's hips again in 2 weeks.
If the hip problem is more serious or if it's
still there the next time your baby's hips are checked, the doctor may have you
take your baby to a pediatric orthopedist. This is a doctor who has had special
training in bone problems in children.
Sometimes a baby's hips may be checked by
ultrasound. Ultrasound uses sound waves to take a picture of your baby's hips.
X-rays of the hips can be taken when your baby is about 3 months old.
How are hip problems
Most hip problems can be treated with a soft
brace called a "Pavlik harness." This brace keeps your baby's knees spread apart
and bent up toward the chest (see Picture 2). If your baby is treated with this
harness, the doctor will check your baby's hips every 1 to 2 weeks at first, to
see if the hip is going into place and staying there. Once the hip is in place,
your baby will keep wearing the brace for another 2 or 3 months. Your baby wears
the brace day and night for about 3 to 6 months.
About 1 in 20 babies needs more than a brace to
fix a hip problem. Some babies need leg casts and traction (see Picture 3).
Other babies need surgery to fix their hip problem.
You should tell your doctor if any relatives had
hip problems when they were babies. Even if your baby's hips seem normal, the
doctor may want your baby to have an ultrasound or an x-ray to be sure.