Perthes Disease

Perthes Disease Treatment in Kansas City, MO

What is Perthes Disease?

Perthes disease is a hip problem that affects a small number of children. It happens when the blood supply to the round head of the thighbone (femur) is briefly cut off. Bone cells die when they don’t get enough blood, which is called avascular necrosis.

As the disease gets worse, the weaker head of the femur slowly starts to fall apart. Over time, the head of the femur gets blood again, and the bone starts to grow back.

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Perthes Disease Symptoms

Changes in the way your child walks and runs are one of the first signs of Perthes. This is often most clear when people are playing sports. Because of irritation in the hip joint, your child may limp, have restricted movement, or run in a strange way. Some other common signs are:

  • Pain in the hip or groin or in other parts of the leg, like the thigh or knee. This is called “referred pain”
  • Pain that gets worse when you move and gets better when you rest
  • Muscle cramps can be very painful and can be caused by irritation around the hip

Perthes Disease Treatment

The goal of treatment is to get rid of painful symptoms, keep the femoral head in good shape, and get the hip to move normally again. If you don’t fix it, the femoral head can change shape and not fit well in the hip socket. This can cause more hip problems as an adult, like arthritis that starts early.

Perthes disease can be treated in many different ways, which include but are not limited to:

  • Observation – For children 2 to 6 years old whose first X-rays don’t show much change in the femoral head, the standard treatment is to just watch them
  • Anti-inflammatory medication – Hip joint inflammation leads to painful symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, are used to reduce inflammation, and your child’s doctor may recommend them for a few months
  • Activity modification – Avoiding high-impact activities like running and jumping will help ease pain and protect the femoral head. Your child’s doctor may also suggest that your child use crutches or a chair so that they don’t put too much weight on the joint
  • Physical therapy – Children with Perthes disease often have stiff hips and physical therapy is often suggested to help restore the range of motion in the hip joint. Most of the time, these movements focus on moving the hips in and out
  • Bracing – If the range of motion gets limited or if X-rays or other image scans show that a deformity is starting to form, a cast or brace may be used to keep the head of the femur in its normal place within the socket
  • Surgery – Hip surgery may be needed to put the hip bones back in the right place and keep the head of the femur deep in the socket until the hip is fully healed

Perthes Disease Care in Kansas City

If your child has any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact Orthopedic Health of Kansas City and make an appointment with one of our Kansas City hip and pelvis specialists. Your child is in good hands with us and we will do what it takes to get them back to what they love.