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Hip Pain in Children: Care Instructions


Hip pain may be caused by many things, including overuse, a fall, or a twisting movement. Other causes include a viral infection or a problem with the bones in the hip.

Your child's pain may increase when standing, walking, or squatting. The pain may come and go or may be constant.

Home treatment can help relieve hip pain, swelling, and stiffness. If your child's pain is ongoing, your child may need more tests and treatment.

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?

  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • 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.
  • Be sure your child rests and protects the hip. Have your child take breaks from any activities that may worsen pain, including standing or walking.
  • Put ice or a cold pack against your child's hip for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this 3 to 4 times a day 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.
  • Tell your child to sleep on their healthy side with a pillow between the knees. Or have your child sleep on their back with pillows under the knees.
  • If there is no swelling, you can put moist heat or a warm cloth on your child's hip. Help your child do gentle stretching exercises to help keep the hip flexible.
  • Help your child avoid falls.
    • Have your child's vision checked regularly, if you think your child has problems seeing.
    • Tell your child to be careful going up or down stairs.
    • Be sure your child has the proper safety equipment for sports.
    • Make sure your child wears slippers or shoes with a non-skid sole.
    • Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
    • Be sure your child wears comfortable shoes.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child tells you his or her buttocks, legs, or feet feel numb or tingly.
  • Your child's leg or foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child has signs of a possible blood clot, such as:
    • Severe pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in the leg or groin.

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

  • Your child is not able to stand or walk or bear weight.
  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in the hip area.
    • Red streaks leading from the hip area.
    • Pus draining from the hip area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child is not able to bend, straighten, or move the leg normally.
  • Your child has trouble urinating or having bowel movements.

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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