Perthes Disease

The causes of Perthes Disease

Perthes disease is experienced worldwide each year by children who unfortunately are born with this disorder. Although this disease will likely not show up in infancy and will usually begin in the preschool ages or extend in to the later elementary school years. This disease is caused by a decreased blood supply to the hip and femur, but particularly in the area of the femoral head. This is the top of the long bone of the thigh that connects into the socket of the hip. When blood flow is reduced the tissue will decay and eventually die. This will cause instability in the joint and pain for some children. Others may also experience leg shortening or hip dislocation.

Symptoms of Perthes Disease

Perthes DiseaseChildren with Perthes disease may not present with any symptoms in the beginning. In fact it may be quite some time before they even begin to complain of pain or a parent notices any deformity in the effected leg. The first sign though is that of a limp your child may present with pain as well although this is usually a later sign of damage. Pain may radiate throughout the leg or may be localized in the hip or groin only. Children may also experience difficulty with normal daily activities and experience pain when activity levels increase. Rest will usual bring relief from some of the pain your child is experiencing.

Diagnosing Perthes Disease

If your child has hip pain or has developed a limp it’s time to see your pediatrician. Your doctor can give your child a thorough physical examination and rule out other causes of hip pain. If your doctor suspects hip damage or Perthes Disease he or she may order an x-ray or MRI for a better diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best course of treatment after evaluating your child.

Treatment of Perthes Disease

There are some treatments for Perthes disease that can help your child maintain a good level of mobility and maybe even relive some of the pain that they may be experiencing. Many physicians may recommend physical therapy to prevent a loss of motion in the joint. This will prevent joints from freezing and locking or your child losing the ability to use the joint. Surgery is also an option to relocate the femur head however it is not available to children who are younger than six.

Long Term Outlook for Perthes Disease

While there are many treatments for this disease there are still complications that your child may experience both now and in their adult years. The main complication is the need for hip replacement in later life due to increased wear or stress on the joint. Shortening of the affected leg may also occur throughout life and your child may suffer from the joint locking later. Early treatment or physical therapy may help to manage these risks though and help your child to maintain a healthy active lifestyle for many years to come.