During a physical examination, the health care provider will look for a loss in hip motion and a typical limp. A hip x-ray or pelvis x-ray may show signs of Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. An MRI scan may be needed.
The goal of treatment is to keep the ball of the thigh bone inside the socket. The provider may call this containment. The reason for doing this is to make sure the hip continues to have good range of motion.
The treatment plan may involve:
A short period of bed rest to help with severe pain
Limiting the amount of weight placed on the leg by restricting activities such as running
Physical therapy to help keep the leg and hip muscles strong
Taking anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, to relieve stiffness in the hip joint
Wearing a cast or brace to help with containment
Using crutches or a walker
Surgery may be needed if other treatments do not work. Surgery ranges from lengthening a groin muscle to major hip surgery, called an osteotomy, to reshape the pelvis. The exact type of surgery depends on the severity of the problem and the shape of the ball of the hip joint.
It is important for the child to have regular follow-up visits with the doctor and an orthopedic specialist.
Outlook depends on the child's age and the severity of the disease.
Children younger than 6 years old who receive treatment are more likely to end up with a normal hip joint. Children older than age 6 are more likely to end up with a deformed hip joint, despite treatment, and may later develop arthritis in that joint.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for an appointment with your provider if a child develops any symptoms of this disorder.
Canale ST. Osteochondrosis or epiphysitis and other miscellaneous affections. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 32.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.