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Irritable Hip

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Irritable Hip

Irritable hip is inflammation (swelling) of the membrane covering the hip joint. It is the most common cause of hip pain in young children. A child with irritable hip will have pain and restricted movement in their hip joint. The pain can also spread to the thigh, groin and knee areas. This makes standing and walking difficult and causes the child to limp. Usually, only one hip is affected. Irritable hip is also called acute transient synovitis.

Who is affected?
Irritable hip is a common childhood condition that affects boys and girls of any age. It is most often seen in boys aged between two and 12 and twice as many boys than girls are affected.

The cause is uncertain and the condition is usually made as a diagnosis of exclusion. Infection and trauma are postulated as precipitating factors but prospective studies report infection, usually of the upper respiratory tract, in only 30% of cases, and significant trauma in only 5% of cases.

What are the symptoms of irritable hip?
Common symptoms of irritable hip include:

  • Hip pain: of rapid onset (develops rapidly). Usually on one side of the hip. Pain may range from mild to severe
  • Pain spreads: the pain may spread to the groin, thigh and knee on the affected side.
  • Limp: the symptoms of pain force many children to limp.
  • Abnormal crawling: infants may crawl in a strange way, because of the pain.
  • Abnormal crying: in small infants (small babies), caused by pain. May be more noticeable while changing diapers
  • A slight fever (less common): if fever is high, it is likely the child has something else, possibly more serious.

Diagnosis of irritable hip
The doctor, usually a GP (general practitioner, primary care physician) will ask the child or parent/guardian about the symptoms. This will be followed by a physical examination. The following diagnostic tests may be ordered:

  • X-ray
  • Blood test - to determine whether there is an infection
  • Imaging scan - to detect or rule out other more serious conditions or infections

Authored By : DR. DAVID V RAJAN

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