OBJECTIVE: In developmental hip dysplasia (DDH) patients, the chronic dislocation of the femoral head with respect to the true acetabulum determines muscle contracture and atrophy, particularly of the abductor muscles, and leads to secondary osteoarthritis (OA) with severe motor dysfunction, pain and disability. The correct positioning when a total hip replacement (THR) is performed is fundamental to the recovery of gait function. Also, inadequate rehabilitation of the abductor muscles for pelvic stabilisation can be responsible for residual dysfunction. Consensus on a programme for abductor muscle strengthening in these patients is not currently available. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a specific program of exercises for strengthening the abductor muscles in these patients.
METHODS: A multicentre, prospective, randomised clinical trial was carried out in an outpatient rehabilitation setting on 103 patients given THR for DDH through a minimally invasive anterolateral approach. Patients were randomly divided into a Study Group, including 46 patients, and a Control Group, including 57 patients. All patients underwent standard early postoperative rehabilitation. In addition, the Study Group were given an extra 2-week rehabilitation once full weight-bearing on the operated limb was allowed, aimed at strengthening the abductor muscles. All patients were evaluated preoperatively, and at about 3 and 6 months postoperatively. Clinical measures (lower limb-length differences, hip range of motion, abductor muscle strength), and functional measures (WOMAC, HHS, 10mt WT, SF-12) were taken.
RESULTS: Hip range of motion and functional outcome measures showed a progressive improvement at follow ups in both groups, significantly higher in the Study Group. In particular, abductor strength at 6 months post-op improved by 92.5% with respect to 35.7% in the Control Group.
CONCLUSION: In addition to standard rehabilitation, a rehabilitation programme for strengthening the gluteal muscles in DDH patients who underwent THR determined an increase in muscle strength that improved functional performance and patient satisfaction.
- Developmental hip dysplasia
- gluteal muscle weakness
- total hip replacement