Hip dysplasia, also called hip dislocation, is a common problem in children with cerebral palsy. It can cause considerable pain for children, whether they use a wheelchair or walk.

Hip dysplasia can also cause difficulty with hygiene care and daily functioning. 

A hip screening can help prevent hip dysplasia before it happens. At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we perform a hip screening every 6–12 months.

Hip Dysplasia and Cerebral Palsy

The hip is one of the joints that cerebral palsy most commonly affects. It is second only to the ankle. 

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint. To move without pain, the ball (femoral head) must be inside the socket (acetabulum). 

In children with cerebral palsy, the hip joint is under more pressure due to their tight muscles. This intense pressure can gradually move the ball out of the socket. This results in a dislocation. Displaced or dislocated hips often cause debilitating (unbearable) pain and early arthritis. 

Finding Hip Dysplasia Early

Early stages of hip dysplasia in children with cerebral palsy can be easy to miss. Children often don’t report any pain. 

If treatment is not started in time, hip problems can quickly get worse. By the time the child starts complaining of pain, the hip is usually displaced. At this stage, there are fewer treatment options that can help. A displaced hip often requires extensive reconstructive surgery on the hip and the pelvis.

Finding the potential hip displacement early is the key. When it’s caught early, we can treat hip dysplasia with simple procedures. With routine screening of all children with cerebral palsy, we can easily avoid this debilitating issue.

Expert Orthopedic Care for Cerebral Palsy Hip Pain

The nationally ranked pediatric orthopedic program at St. Louis Children’s Hospital performs hip screenings and motion analysis. Our orthopedic physicians, surgeons and other medical providers work closely with the rest of your child’s cerebral palsy team at every visit. Together, they ensure your child receives the care they need to gain function and independence.

The team also offers treatments for other musculoskeletal conditions associated with cerebral palsy. 

Learn more about hip disorders in children with cerebral palsy.

Motion Analysis Center and Gait Evaluation

Our Motion Analysis Center uses advanced digital imaging and highly sensitive equipment to assess your child’s gait (walking pattern). This evaluation helps our experts identify early signs of hip dysplasia and other orthopedic conditions. Having this information, we can intervene early — before painful orthopedic conditions arise.

Make an Appointment for a Hip Screening at the Cerebral Palsy Center

If you’re a new patient, you’ll need a referral for care at our Cerebral Palsy Center. Please ask your physician to send us a referral before your first visit. If you’re a current patient, part of your child’s care includes regular hip screening. Your team will talk with you about when and how we perform the screening.

For more information, call 314.454.5437 or 800.678.5437, or email us.