Perthes Disease

This is a condition that affects the hips of children commonly between the ages of 4 and 10 yrs but can occur earlier in some cases. It is rare in the population occuring in 1:1,000 children. Considerable controversy exists in orthopaedic circles on how best to treat Perthes and this can lead to some confusion for parents.

It is characterised by limping and stiffness of usually 1 hip but both can be affected (not usually at the same time but within 18 months of each other). Impact activities such as running, jumping, skipping are detrimental to the soft hip and must be avoided for many months and even up to more than a year.

Movement of the hip is important and swimming is very good for kids with Perthes. When the hip is quite good, cycling is permitted and helps keep the hip moving. Bouts of pain are typical and rest is needed together with paracetamol and Ibuprofen to keep pain controlled. Occasionally a child will need to be admitted to hospital for stricter bed rest than can occur at home.

Surgery may be needed in some cases and it is essential that regular follow up is undertaken by a specialist children’s orthopaedic surgeon. Mr Uglow and the team at Southampton are very experienced in looking after patients with Perthes disease.