Answers written by:Dr. Ernest Sink, Pediatric Orthopedic Hip Surgeon
Q1: If my child complains of pain in the hip, how do I know it’s not just growing pains? Is there such a thing?
Growing pains are usually in the thighs and legs and not isolated to the hip. Growing pains occur at the end of the day or at night, are in both legs, and the child continues full activities the next day and runs and plays without any limp or limitations.
Q2: Can hip pain in children be outgrown?
If it is growing pains they will outgrow the pain but again growing pains are pain in both legs at night or the end of the day that do not effect the child’s activity, there is no limp or fever, and the child is usually younger.
Q3: Growing up, I had a history of hip dysplasia. Does this mean my child’s chances of dysplasia are higher? What should I look out for?
If the parent has a history of dysplasia the child should be screened with an x-ray or with an ultrasound of the hip as an infant 6 weeks to 4 months of age. Hip dysplasia can be inherited. There are no specific findings in children with mild dysplasia. A limp, shorter leg or pain are things to look for, but again if there is a family history the child should be screened.
Q4: What are the most common causes of hip pain in kids? And how does a parent know when it is serious?
The common causes depend on the age of the child. Hip pain is not common in children so any persistent complaints of hip pain should be evaluated by a physician. In general the common causes of hip pain are: hip dysplasia, Perthes disease (where the blood flow to the femoral head is disrupted), SCFE (slipped capital femoral epiphysis) and hip impingement in adolescents.
Dr. Sink reminds parents, “Hip pain diagnosis is often complex and the child’s specific age, undergoing an exam and having x-rays taken are often needed to arrive at a correct diagnosis.”
Dr. Ernest Sink is an orthopedic surgeon and Co-Director of Hospital for Special Surgery’s Center for Hip Preservation. He specializes in the treatment of hip disorders in infants, adolescents and young adults, including periacetabular osteotomies (PAO) and surgical hip dislocations.