Legg-Calve-Perthes

Illustration of a femur, femoral head and blood vessel.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease happens when the ball of the thighbone in the hip doesn’t get enough blood. This causes the bone to die. As a result, the bone may break easily, even without a major injury. These breaks take a long time to heal. The disease is also known as avascular necrosis of the hip. The cause of this disease is not known. It generally happens between ages 3 and 12. It most commonly affects boys.

The earliest sign of the disease is limping. There may also be pain or stiffness in the hip. One leg may be shorter than the other.

The earlier the disease is found, the better the outcome. However, if the problem develops after age 8 there may be long-term effects. These include deformity of the hip joint and osteoarthritis as an adult.

Your child’s treatment will vary based on the severity of the disease. The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms, maintain hip motion, and keep the hip in proper position. Treatment may include any of the following:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicines

  • Physical therapy

  • Crutches

  • Cast or brace

  • Surgery

Most children with the disease can return to normal activities within 2 years of treatment.

Home care

  • Limit activity as advised by your child’s healthcare provider. Initially, it is generally recommended to not put weight on the affected leg.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If your child has chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Contact your healthcare provider if any of the following occurs:

  • Sudden increase in hip pain with or without injury

  • Increased limping

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