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What is Irritable Hip, Know its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What is Irritable Hip?

Irritable Hip is a condition seen mostly in children less than 10 years old. It is mainly caused when the hip joint gets inflamed. Irritable Hip is characterized by severe pain in the hip along with difficulty ambulation with a clear visible limp. It is also known by the name of Acute Transient Synovitis. This condition is seen mostly in boys and is less common in girls.[1]

Irritable Hip causes the tissues around the hip joint to swell. In most cases, only one hip gets affected and the pain caused by it radiated to the thigh and the groin. At times, the knee also gets involved. The pain caused by Irritable Hip lasts for at least a couple of weeks before fading away.[1]

What Causes Irritable Hip?

As stated, Irritable Hip is caused due to inflammation of the tissues in and around the hip. Why this inflammation occurs is not clearly understood. Some of the possible causes as postulated by experts include.[2]

Viral Infection: Some experts believe that Irritable Hip may be caused due to an allergic reaction as a result of the immune system reacting to an infection at another part of the body. It is common for children to have an upper respiratory infection before the onset of symptoms of Irritable Hip.[2]

Injury: This is yet another cause for a child to have Irritable Hip. It may be an injury due to a fall or a physical trauma which results in inflammation causing symptoms of Irritable Hip.[2]

What are the Symptoms of Irritable Hip?

Pain and discomfort is the primary symptom of Irritable Hip. The onset of pain in most cases is sudden and occurs on one side of the hip. At times, the pain radiates to the thigh, groin, and even the knee. There is also an observable limp when the child ambulates. In cases of infants and toddlers, they may cry when trying to move because of the pain, more so when changing diapers. There may also be at times fever that develops but this is not that common in cases of Irritable Hip.[2]

How Is Irritable Hip Diagnosed?

A diagnosis of Irritable Hip is usually made after all other causes of hip pain and difficulty with movement have been ruled out. The reason behind this is that the symptoms of Irritable Hip are similar to many other hip conditions that are far more serious than Irritable Hip, specifically Septic Arthritis or Perthes Disease.[2]

Some of the ways to diagnose Irritable Hip is by way of radiologic studies in the form of x-ray, MRI and CT scan. This is necessary to rule out any abnormality in the bone. The physician may also order blood tests to look for any signs of infection. Additionally, a physical examination will be conducted to check the range of motion and look for any areas of tenderness. Bone scan is yet another test that can confirm a diagnosis of Irritable Hip.[2]

How is Irritable Hip Treated?

Irritable Hip is a self-limiting condition. In most cases, the symptoms subside within a span of a few days. However during this period it is essential that the child gets complete rest. It is recommended that the child not attend school or participate in any sporting activities to prevent the inflammation from getting worse. It would be best to make the children lie on their backs with the knees bent and the foot of the affected side turned outwards.[2]

With complete rest, the symptoms of Irritable Hip should resolve in two or three days. In rare instances, the pain may last for a couple of weeks. Irritable Hip is not a condition which requires an inpatient stay. At maximum, the patient would require NSAIDs to control the pain and inflammation. It is advised that children under the age of 16 should not be given aspirin.[2]

In case if the pain does not improve even after a week of rest and medication, then a consultation with a physician is recommended since worsening of symptoms may indicate another underlying medical condition rather than Irritable Hip.[2]


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 18, 2020

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