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Dislocated Hip (From Trauma) in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Your child's hip is a large and fairly stable joint. Usually it takes a serious injury, or trauma, to make the thigh bone slip out of its socket (dislocate). This might be something like a hard fall, a car crash, or something else of great force. When the thigh bone slips out of its socket, it is called a dislocated hip.

The doctor will put your child's hip back in place. What happens next depends on the age of your child. The doctor may put a younger child in a spica cast. This will keep the hip from moving. For older children, first the doctor will put the dislocated hip back into normal position. Your child may need to use a walking aid or a hip brace for several weeks or months while the hip heals.

Exercise and physiotherapy can help your child's hip get strong and move normally again. You can also help your child get better with rest and home care.

Your child may have had a sedative to help them relax. Your child may be unsteady after having sedation. It takes time (sometimes a few hours) for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects of sedation include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or cranky.

The doctor has checked your child carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor put your child in a spica cast or brace, make sure to follow all instructions your doctor gives you.
  • Be sure your child follows the safety precautions your doctor gives you to keep the hip centred in its socket during the healing period.
    • Have your child keep their knees and toes pointed forward when they sit, walk, or stand.
    • Your child should not sit with their legs crossed.
    • Your child should not bend at the waist more than 90º. Be careful when your child leans or moves in bed. Keep the legs as straight ahead as possible.
  • Have your child rest the hip as much as possible. They will need to change activities to avoid movements that irritate the hip.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your child's hip is swollen, put ice or a cold pack on it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • If your doctor gave your child exercises to do at home, help your child do them exactly as your doctor told you.
  • Don't let your child do anything that makes the pain worse.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing. Symptoms may include:
    • Using the belly muscles to breathe.
    • The chest sinking in or the nostrils flaring when your child struggles to breathe.
  • Your child is very sleepy and you have trouble waking them.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child's foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in a foot or the toes.
  • Your child has signs of a blood clot in a leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness or swelling in a leg.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.