Help for Young Hips

CHICAGO, Ill. (KFSN) -- Hip dysplasia is a condition that can lead to painful arthritis and hip replacement surgery. In fact, about 35,000 hip replacements are performed each year just for hip dysplasia, but many patients may be too young to have this operation. Now an alternative is giving them a new lease on life.

Ashley Frankenthor, 21, has spent most of her young life on the move.

"I played soccer, softball, I did gymnastics, cheerleading," Frankenthor explained.

Her favorite sport turned out to be volleyball.

Frankenthor continued, "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," Frankenthor 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 continued, "Each time that a hip replacement is revised, the outcomes are not as good."

Dr. Williams 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. The recovery hasn't been easy, but Ashley says it's worth it.

Frankenthor 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.
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