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Hip pain in children (irritable hip)

Hip pain in children is most often caused by a condition called irritable hip, which usually gets better on its own. But it should always be checked because it could be a sign of something serious.

To find out what's causing your child's pain, a doctor or nurse may:

  • look at and feel your child's hip, leg or knee
  • try gently moving the leg in different directions
  • ask about any recent injuries or illnesses
  • arrange an X-ray

Sometimes a blood test or other scans may also be done to confirm it's nothing serious.

Irritable hip normally gets better in 1 or 2 weeks and does not cause lasting problems.

You can usually look after your child at home. Sometimes they may need to stay in hospital for a few days if they're in a lot of pain.

While looking after your child at home:

Do

  • make sure they rest their leg until they're feeling better – keep them off nursery or school until they're recovered

  • give them children's ibuprofen or paracetamol for their pain

  • attend any follow-up appointments recommended by your doctor or nurse

Don't

  • do not let them do any activities that could put a lot of strain on their hip for at least 2 weeks – they can gradually return to their normal activities once they're feeling better (swimming is a good way to get the joint moving again)