Back in the Game

Brittany Watson is not one for sitting the bench. When severe hip pain threatened to sideline the 15-year-old’s fastpitch softball career, she turned to a pediatric and adolescent hip specialist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to help her get back in the game.

In early 2008, Brittany began experiencing pain in her right hip. Like many athletes, she tried to play through, but it got progressively worse.

When physical therapy did not alleviate the pain, Brittany was referred to Tim Schrader, M.D., Medical Director, Children’s Orthopaedic Hip program, who, through diagnostic imaging, found that she had developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH).

“Brittany’s DDH was not severe, but nonsurgical treatment would not change the physical position of the socket like we can with surgery,” Dr. Schrader said. “Other options would be to ignore the pain and live with it, undergo a hip fusion or a hip replacement. With a young person having good cartilage and no signs of arthritis, the last two options did not make sense.”

Dr. Schrader explained that physical therapy, medications and orthopaedic braces are not effective treatments, so he recommended periacetabular osteotomy (PAO), a surgical treatment for acetabular dysplasia that preserves and enhances the patient's own hip joint rather than replacing it with an artificial part. The goal is to alleviate the patient's pain, restore function and maximize the functional life of the dysplastic hip.

“The surgery allows us to reposition the socket into a more normal position,” he said.

Dr. Schrader said Brittany’s long-term prognosis is excellent following surgery and rehabilitation.

“Her cartilage was in good shape, so the dysplasia was detected before any significant joint damage had occurred,” he said.