A hip problem can be hard to deal with, both for the child who has the problem and for the parent or caregiver. A child who has a hip problem may feel pain in the hip, groin, thigh, or knee. A child in pain may limp or be unable or unwilling to stand, walk, or move the affected leg. A baby in pain may cry, be fussy, and have other signs of pain. Hip problems may be present at birth (congenital). Or they may develop from injury, overuse, inflammation, infection, or tumor growth.
To better understand hip problems, it may be helpful to know how the hip works. It's the largest ball-and-socket joint in the body. The thighbone (femur) fits tightly into a cup-shaped socket (acetabulum) in the pelvis. The hip joint is tighter and more stable than the shoulder joint, but it doesn't move as freely. The hip joint is held together by muscles in the buttock, groin, and spine; tendons; ligaments; and a joint capsule. Several fluid-filled sacs (bursae) cushion and lubricate the hip joint and let the tendons and muscles glide and move smoothly. The largest nerve in the body (sciatic nerve) passes through the pelvis into the leg.
Hip problems may develop from overuse, infection, or a problem that was present from birth (congenital). Oddly enough, a child who has a hip problem often feels pain in the knee or thigh instead of the hip. Hip problems that affect children include:
Treatment may include first aid and using a brace, cast, harness, or traction. It may also include physical therapy and medicines. In some cases, surgery is needed. Treatment for a hip problem depends on:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Pain in children 3 years and older
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in children are:
If there is a difference between the child's hips, you may notice that:
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Try the following tips to help relieve your child's hip pain, swelling, and stiffness. If your child becomes upset or won't cooperate, don't force your child.
Have your child rest and protect the affected hip. Have your child stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing pain or soreness.
For 48 hours, don't let your child do things that might increase swelling. These things include taking hot showers, using hot tubs, and using hot packs.
After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, you can put heat on your child's hip. Moist heat with a hot water bottle or warm towel may feel good to your child.
After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, your child can carefully do their normal activities.
Gently massage or rub your child's hip to relieve pain and encourage blood flow. Don't massage the affected area if it causes pain.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
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