Hip dysplasia can lead to painful arthritis and hip replacement surgery, but many patients may be too young to have this operation. Now, some doctors are offering an alternative that may be better for younger patients.
Twenty-one-year-old Ashley Frankenthor has spent most of her young life on the move.
"I played soccer, softball, I did gymnastics, cheerleading," she explained.
Her favorite sport was volleyball. Ashley said, "I was very competitive and always needed to be aggressive."
But hip pain sidelined the promising athlete in high school.
"I was in so much pain, where I could not walk or do anything," she said.
It took a few years, but Ashley finally got a diagnosis. She had hip dysplasia, or an abnormal hip joint. Doctors don't know what causes it, but if untreated, it can lead to severe arthritis.
"Once a hip is arthritic, really the only treatment is a hip replacement," said Joel Williams, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush.
The problem is hip replacements only last about 20 years for elderly patients, but as many as 35 percent of patients younger than 50 have to do it again in five years. So young patients like Ashley would either have to wait in pain for years or have the surgery and multiple revisions.
Dr. Williams added, "Each time that a hip replacement is revised, the outcomes are not as good."
He offered Ashley a different option- hip preservation surgery. He essentially cut her pelvis and shifted her bone up, so the hip joint aligned with the socket. It can postpone or even eliminate the need for a hip replacement down the road, according to Dr. Williams.
The recovery hasn't been easy, but Ashley says it's worth it.
She said, "I feel like a whole new person after it."
Hip dysplasia affects many more women than men. Doctors say it could be a developmental condition. The environment of a mother's womb seems to play a role in predicting if some babies will develop hip dysplasia, as does breech birth, and being a firstborn child.