Child Orthopedics

Frequently Asked Questions

Our baby has a hip problem they want us to use an ugly old harness thing to hold his legs apart. Do we really need to do this? Won't he outgrow this problem? It looks like some kind of torture device.

It sounds like you are describing the Pavlik harness, first designed and used by Dr. Arnold Pavlik in the 1940s. It's not exactly new, but it's not from the dark ages, either. In fact, it's been around long enough to show how successful it really is. Success rates range from 61 per cent up to 99 per cent. The harness has become the number one treatment choice for babies birth to three months old. The harness is used for dislocated hips. It places the hips in a flexed and abducted (legs apart) position. The goal is to reduce the hip(s) (put the dislocated hip back in the socket) and keep it there. Usually, the treatment works well within the first three to four weeks. It is safe, simple, and comfortable for the child. And you don't have to take it off to change the baby's diaper. Without treatment, the hip socket will not fully develop and become deep enough to hold the head of the femur (thigh bone) in place. Untreated, it's likely that surgery may be necessary. And that's much more expensive, complex, and traumatic than the short term solution provided by the harness.

Andrzej Borowski, MD, et al. Bilaterally Dislocated Hips Treated with the Pavlik Harness Are Not at a Higher Risk for Failure. In Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics. October/November 2009. Vol. 29. No. 7. Pp. 661-665.

News Feed Comments

Creative Commons License

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.