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Hip dysplasia is a condition caused by inadequate development of an individual's acetabulum, or hip socket. The resulting acetabulum is shallow and "bowl shaped" rather than "cup shaped".

The supporting roof of the acetabulum slopes steeply upward and outward rather than having it’s normal horizontal position. Because of these abnormalities, the upper part (and often the front part) of the femoral head is incompletely covered by the shallow acetabulum.

Individuals with hip dysplasia usually develop through childhood and adolescence without symptoms or knowledge of their abnormality. By the age of 30 however the patient typically experiences pain from their hip and they often seek medical evaluation. X-ray discloses the abnormality (acetabular dysplasia). Other patients may have been treated for hip problems as an infant or child.

Acetabular dysplasia is often associated with abnormalities in the shape of the upper femur which may contribute to hip symptoms.

It is associated with an abnormally high stress on the outer edge (rim) of the acetabulum which leads to degeneration of the articular cartilage (arthritis). It is also possible for breakdown of the acetabular labrum (rim cartilage) of the acetabulum) or a fatigue fracture of the rim of the acetabulum to occur as a result of this rim overload.

Any one or a combination of these conditions can cause hip pain sufficient for the patient to seek medical evaluation and treatment.
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