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Transient Synovitis: January 22, 2011

People of all ages can experience hip pain: athletes, people growing older, even small children. “Something that we see very commonly in kids that mimics the infection of the bone or the joint is called transient synovitis,” explains pediatric orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Matthew Wagner. Dr. Wagner is on the medical staff at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

This is a pain or swelling of the tissues around the hip joint. Pediatric orthopedic surgeons like Dr. Wagner don’t know the exact cause, but do have a few ideas. “It’s a self-limiting condition. It’s usually caused by a viral syndrome whether it’s upper respiratory or GI, and it causes a child to limp and have pain. It most commonly affects the knee and the hip and the age of the child is somewhere between 5 and 10.”

The main symptom is pain in the hip. Sometimes it comes on gradually, other times sudden. The child may have trouble standing or complain of pain in the inner thigh. “They can have a viral element and then it can spontaneously lead to the child having pain and we of course are more concerned for bacterial infection.”

In prescribing the best treatment, physicians may examine the hip, take x-rays; even have blood drawn. “Those can be differentiated based on laboratory work and imaging such as ultrasounds of the joints or MRI of the bones.”

Anti-inflammatory medication is often prescribed and so is rest. Parents are sometimes advised to take their child’s temperature at various times throughout the day. A high fever could signal something more serious.