Home > Health Library > Hip Problems, Age 11 and Younger
A hip problem can be hard to deal with, both for the child who has
the problem and to 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 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 is 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 does not 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 for a hip problem depends on the location, type,
and severity of the problem as well as the child's age, general health, and
activity level. Treatment may include first aid measures; application of a
brace, cast, harness, or traction; physical therapy; medicines; or
Check your child's symptoms to decide if and when
your child should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
If there is a difference between the child's hips, you may notice that:
Pain in children 3 years and older
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in children are:
Symptoms of infection may
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Home treatment may help relieve your
child's hip pain, swelling, and stiffness. If your child will cooperate, use
the following tips. If your child becomes upset or will not cooperate, do not
force your child.
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen to treat a fever. When you
switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much
If your child has a cast, see
cast care tips.
Call your child's doctor if any of the following occur during home
Most of the problems that can affect a
child's hips or cause a child to limp can't be prevented. The following tips
can help keep your child's bones healthy and strong.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your child's condition by being prepared
to answer the following questions:
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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