HealthWatch: Help for Young Hips


CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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,” Joel Williams, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush told Ivanhoe.

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.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Julie Marks, Field Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT: MB #4283

BACKGROUND: Hip dysplasia is when the hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thigh bone. This means that the hip is partially or completely dislocated. Doctors can check babies for signs of hip dysplasia shortly after birth. If the ball isn’t seated firmly into the socket, the socket will not fully form around the ball and will become too shallow.  Also during the final stage of pregnancy, a baby may not have enough space in the womb and the crowding can cause the ball of the hip joint to move out of place. The factors that may reduce space in the womb are first pregnancy, a large baby, and breech presentation. Hip dysplasia is genetic and occurs more often in women. 


TREATMENT:  There are non-operative treatments that include weight loss, joint injections, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Non-operative treatments are for those with mild symptoms. Arthroplasty is a joint replacement surgery that uses artificial parts to replace the damaged joint.  A total hip replacement happens when the dysplasia is too severe, and is determined by the status of the cartilage surfaces. If the cartilage starts to wear out, then it is time for a total hip replacement. 

(Source:  )

PERIACETABULAR OSTEOMY: Periacetabular osteotomy or “PAO” is when the hip socket is cut from the rest of the pelvis and rotated into a normal position. This results in a normal alignment. This type of surgery is performed to postpone a hip replacement. PAO is a better option if the cartilage surfaces are normal, or near normal. It’s also a better option for younger patients with hip dysplasia. Hip replacements last 20 or more years in older people, but fail much earlier in young and active patients. As many as 35 percent of patients under 50 would need a second operation within 5 years if they chose to have total hip replacement at an earlier age, even with the PAO. Overall, the PAO surgery is low risk and a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine is used to assist joint healing after the surgery. 


Dr. Joel Williams, MD.) 


Lisa Stafford


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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