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Periacetabular Osteotomy (PAO) Hip Surgery: An Overview

Hip pain affects a significant portion of the general population, and there are plenty of hip conditions that cause this symptom. Of adults who play sports, 30 to 40 percent experience chronic hip pain, while 12 to 15 percent of adults over sixty experience it. 

While hip pain generally affects individuals as they grow older, others may experience hip pain due to hip dysplasia. This condition may be present at birth or become more evident as the affected individual grows older. For those with hip dysplasia, PAO hip surgery may be an option they consider.

An Overview of Hip Dysplasia 

Hip dysplasia results from the hip joint not developing correctly, with the femoral head slipping partially or wholly out of the socket, which is too shallow. Some common questions regarding hip dysplasia include the following:

Whom Does it Affect?

Hip dysplasia mainly affects adolescents or young adults, with girls tending to be affected by it two to four times as much as boys. These individuals may be born with developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), while others developed it as their bodies grew, but their hips become misaligned. 

What Causes Hip Dysplasia? 

An individual may have been born with DDH, or they may develop it later on in life if it does not align properly as they grow. Individuals whose relatives are affected by hip dysplasia are also more at risk of having or developing this condition. 

What are the Symptoms?

Several symptoms an individual may develop are signs of hip dysplasia. These symptoms include:

  • Limping
  • Pain in the hip
  • Differences in leg length
  • Groin pain that increases with activity
  • A sensation of popping, snapping, or catching
  • Difficulty sleeping on the hip

What are the Treatment Options?

Those suffering from hip dysplasia may consider non-surgical treatments or surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatments may be recommended for those with mild symptoms. These non-surgical treatments include:

  • Lifestyle modification
  • Weight loss
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy

Periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) is a surgical treatment for individuals with a more severe form or long symptom history of hip dysplasia. 

How do Doctors diagnose Hip Dysplasia? 

Doctors can diagnose hip dysplasia in an individual by completing a physical examination and reviewing your history. Your doctor will likely check your hip’s range of motion. Your doctor may also consult x-rays and other imaging or run a series of tests to determine whether or not you have dysplasia. 

What is PAO Hip Surgery?

PAO hip surgery corrects hip dysplasia by repositioning the acetabulum (hip socket) to cover more of the femoral head. To do this, the surgeon performs a series of cuts around the pelvis to reposition the hip socket over the head. The hip socket is then held in place and stabilized by screws. As time passes, new bones will form and fuse the hip socket to the pelvis, achieving proper hip alignment.

This surgery helps adolescents and young adults who suffer from hip pain and are limited by their hip dysplasia. Individuals who have had no success with non-surgical treatments may also benefit from PAO surgery. 

Why Would You Need PAO Surgery?

If left untreated, hip dysplasia can lead to several other hip problems, such as osteoarthritis or hip labral tears in women. It could eventually lead to an individual needing a hip replacement. Fortunately, it’s a treatable condition, but if left untreated, it can cause severe pain and leave individuals unable to participate in physical activities they love. 

Periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) surgery can help correct the hip’s misalignment before it does any more wear and tear on the hip joint. PAO hip surgery also has the added benefits of reducing or eliminating hip pain, improving hip function, and helping hip stability.  

PAO Hip Surgery Recovery

The recovery rate from a PAO procedure falls between four to six months, with patients staying in the hospital for two to three days after the surgery. You will likely be on crutches for about two weeks following your surgery. 

Before patients are discharged from the hospital, they will participate in physical therapy and be instructed on post-surgery guidelines. This includes how much weight they can bear and when they can resume their usual activities. Patients can usually resume their normal activities around two to four months after their PAO procedure. 

Sometimes both hips are affected by dysplasia, which requires two PAO procedures. If that’s the case, an individual’s second surgery will be scheduled four to six months after the first one. 

Consult with an Expert and See if a PAO Hip Surgery is Right For You

Many individuals have hip pain, but that does not mean you have to continue to live with it. There are plenty of hip treatments available. If you suspect you or someone you love may have hip dysplasia, consult one of our experts at the American Hip Institute.

We offer industry-leading hip treatment solutions that have benefited tens of thousands of patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and see how we can help you!


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