What are clicky hips?
Clicky hips is a commonly used term for a condition which includes congenital dislocation of the hips (CDH) and developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).
The hip is a ball and socket joint and sometimes the ball does not lie properly in the socket and gets displaced. Sometimes if the socket is not shaped properly and is too shallow, the ball can come in and out when it shouldn't.
Some babies are born with dislocatable or unstable hips because of hormones from their mothers crossing the placenta around the time of delivery. These hormones – the same ones that allow a mum's pelvic ligaments to relax in preparation for the baby's passage down the birth canal - can cause the ligaments around their babies' joints to relax, too.
As a baby's hormone levels stabilise after birth, the ligaments around the hip may tighten again, but in some cases they don't.
Experts think there may be other reasons for abnormal hip joint development, including genetic factors or the baby having been lying in a breech position close to birth. It's also more common in girls than boys, and in first-born babies.
What are the symptoms of Clicky hips?
You won't notice symptoms yourself, but your baby's hips will be checked by a doctor at birth and then again six to eight weeks later. If the joints are found to be unstable – a condition which is characterised by a clicking noise when they're manipulated - an ultrasound scan may be performed and DDH might be diagnosed.
What are the treatments and remedies of Clicky hips?
In most minor cases, the problem will rectify itself without treatment. If DDH is diagnosed, your baby will be referred to an expert clinician, usually a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon and, depending on the assessment made by the surgeon, your baby will be either treated or just monitored.
Treatment usually involves splinting the baby's legs wide apart for a few weeks to encourage proper growth of the hip socket.
The information in this Bounty A-Z of Family Health is not a substitute for an examination, diagnosis or treatment by a doctor, midwife, health visitor or any other qualified health professional. If in doubt, always speak to a doctor.
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