Pediatric hip disorders: Helping hips heal

Hip disorders can cause pain and make it hard for your child to move. Left untreated, these disorders may lead to more problems as an adult. UW Health Kids Orthopedics experts are ready to help, staying with your child every step of the way.
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Overview

Expert care to improve your child’s life

UW Health Kids orthopedic specialists care for all types of hip conditions. We offer nonsurgical therapies as well as surgical treatments. Our surgical treatments include advanced, minimally invasive procedures. These treatments use smaller incisions than open surgery, which can result in less scarring and a quicker recovery.

Conditions and disorders

Complete care for complex hip conditions

Some hip disorders are present at birth. Others develop later in life. Our team cares for children with all types of hip disorders, including the most complex.

Femoroacetabular impingement

Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is a condition in which the bones that make up the hip joint don’t fit together well. This misalignment disrupts the normal gliding motion of the hip. It can lead to pain, limping and hip stiffness.

Causes of FAI can include:

  • Defects present at birth

  • Hip dysplasia

  • Perthes disease

  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE)

  • Trauma

Hip dysplasia

At the upper end of the thighbone is a ball, known as the femoral head. This ball usually fits into the socket of your pelvis bone. In a child with hip dysplasia, the socket doesn’t completely cover the ball. The joint may dislocate, which can lead to pain. It can also cause joint cartilage to wear away. In most cases, a child is born with hip dysplasia.

Perthes disease

Perthes disease occurs when blood doesn’t reach the ball on the top of the thighbone as it should. Over time, this can cause that ball (femoral head) to weaken and begin to collapse. Eventually, the blood supply returns, and bone begins regrowing. However, it may no longer fit well in the hip socket.

A child with Perthes may limp or have trouble running. Pain and muscle spasms around the joint are also possible.

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) occurs when the ball at the top of the femur moves backward. This movement results when the growth plate at the top of the femoral neck weakens. The condition can cause pain that comes and goes or appears suddenly after an injury. It may also lead to a difference in leg length and trouble standing or walking.

Treatments and research

Personalized, child-centered treatment

The type and severity of your child’s condition help determine the right treatment. Factors such as your child’s age and overall health come into play as well.

Nonsurgical treatments

When possible, we turn to nonsurgical treatments first. Some of the treatments we offer include:

To promote proper alignment and healing

To reduce pain, inflammation or infection.

To gently reposition an infant’s hips.

To improve strength and flexibility and reduce symptoms.

To reduce symptoms and allow time for healing.

Surgical treatments

In some cases, surgery is the best option for your child. Surgeries we perform include:

Remove damaged tissue or correct problem areas in the joint.

Place screws to stabilize the femoral head, with or without removal of a weakened growth plate.

Relieve pressure and stimulate blood supply to the hip.

Place surgical pins that go into bones of the hip but extend outside the body and attach to an external frame. This keeps the femoral head inside the hip socket as the hip heals.

Release muscles to reduce tightness and allow the hip to rotate correctly.

Remove or reshape bone to create better hip joint alignment.

Improving care through research

UW Health Kids specialists are committed to improving the way we care for children. Our surgeons are researching ways to help children with hip dysplasia develop normally. Their technique involves placing implants near the hip’s growth plates. These implants help direct the direction of bone growth.

Smiling child with signing UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids

Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Meet our team

Orthopedic specialists focused on your child

Our orthopedic surgeons specialize in working with kids. They offer world-class care for infants, children and adolescents with all types of hip disorders.

Our providers

Locations

The expertise you need, close to home

Our team of specialists sees patients through the Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Clinic at American Family Children's Hospital in Madison. We also offer clinics in Green Bay, Oshkosh and Weston. When you need us, we’re nearby.

  • American Family Children's Hospital - Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
    • 1675 Highland Ave. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
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  • Research Park Clinic - Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
    • 621 Science Dr. / Madison, WI
    • (608) 263-6420
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  • Aurora Children's Health (Green Bay) - Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
    • 1160 Kepler Drive / Green Bay, WI
    • (920) 288-5500
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  • Aurora Children's Health (Oshkosh) - Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery
    • 855 N. Westhaven Drive / Oshkosh, WI
    • (920) 303-8700
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  • Aspirus Weston Clinic
    • 4005 Community Center Dr. / Weston, WI
    • (715) 241-5447
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Patient support and services

Learn more about hip disorders and treatments

These internet resources can help you learn more about your child’s conditions and the treatments that can address them: