Toxic synovitis in kids, also known as transient synovitis, is a temporary inflammation of the hip, which can cause limping, and pain in a child’s hip and leg. Physicians are unsure of the exact cause; however, many children develop it after having a viral infection.
The inflammation can happen at any age, but is most common in children between 3 and 8 years old and is more common in boys.
Symptoms of toxic synovitis
- A recent viral infection such as a cold or stomach virus
- Limping with toes turned outward
- Walking on tiptoes
- Hip discomfort
- Knee or thigh pain
- In some cases a refusal to walk
- The pain usually starts suddenly and is only on one side of the body
A physician will assess your child, checking to see what kind of movement is painful by moving the knee, the hip and other joints. This is to confirm that the limping is caused by joint pain. Sometimes an ultrasound will be necessary for a physician to determine if there is fluid in the hip joint. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to rule out other potential causes of your child’s limping and pain.
Treatment usually includes anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxyn. Your child may take these for up to four weeks until the inflammation goes away.
Resting the hip joint is also critical and it’s best if your child avoids putting weight on the hip while recovering. Kids usually can walk again comfortably within a day or two of taking the anti-inflammatory medicine. However, your child should not participate in activities like gym class or sports until they fully recover.
Toxic synovitis in kids usually goes away within a week or two, but sometimes can last for four to five weeks. Most children have no long-term effects from it; however, some can develop the inflammation multiple times during childhood. If your child has a history let your physician know.
Learn more about pediatric orthopedic care at OrthoIndy.