Irritable Hip Syndrome; Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Irritable Hip Syndrome, also known as the Toxic or Transient Synovitis, is a condition that affects the hip joint in children. It may affect any child between the age of 4-10 years and boys are more prone than girls. The condition is attributed to the inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines and protects the joint. It generally does not cause any further complication.


  • Viral infection that may occur in chest or digestive system
  • Injury to the hip joint
  • Bone fractures in the joint
  • Infection in the upper respiratory tract


  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Severe pain in hip, knee, groin or leg
  • The child may not want to put weight on the affected leg
  • Limping and change in gait of the child
  • Very young children may keep crying when the pain sets in
  • Movement may be restricted
  • Slight rise in body temperature
  • The child may tend to hold the hip outwards, slightly bent away from the body
  • Tenderness
  • The condition may develop slowly with only one side of the joint being affected at first
  • Muscle spasm
  • Redness in the affected part of the leg


  • Analysis of the patient’s medical history and lifestyle besides the symptoms reported
  • X-ray imaging
  • Bone tests to check for bone growth and infections
  • Blood tests
  • MRI or CT scan
  • Ultrasound test may help reveal fluid accumulation in the joint
  • Aspiration in case fluid is present in the joint to check for infections
  • Palpation to check for joint tenderness and locate the exact location of pain
  • Log roll test- the whole joint is rotated outwards to see if there is any involuntary resistance by the supporting muscles (muscle guarding)
  • Neurological tests may be conducted to rule out other causes such as developmental dysplasia of the hip joint


  • The patient is advised to rest and abstain from any strenuous activity for a couple of weeks
  • Medication may be prescribed to relieve pain and swelling
  • Application of heat pads relieves muscular stress
  • Certain physical therapy exercises may improve blood flow and provide relief
  • Traction (manual) may be applied to the affected leg to release stress from the joint. This is done by attaching weight bearing pulley to the leg and then stretching it.

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