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Hip Pain in Adolescents

author image Sriram Ramgopal
Sriram Ramgopal is a medical graduate from Sri Ramachandra University, India. He currently lives in the the greater Boston area and works as a Neurology Research Fellow at Children's Hospital, Boston. Ramgopal is also the co-founder of Sangam India, a nonprofit urban development organization based in Chennai, India.
Hip Pain in Adolescents
Young girl sitting on the ground with her fist clinched in pain. Photo Credit: kwanchaichaiudom/iStock/Getty Images

Hip pain is a common problem among teenagers. According to a 2005 study published in “Acta Paediatrica,” nearly 7 percent of adolescents experience hip pain. The causes of hip pain range from mild to serious. Adolescent hip pain is more common in females, smokers and teens who consume alcohol. Teenagers with prolonged hip pain should be evaluated by a medical professional. Investigations such as X-rays, joint aspiration, and magnetic resonance imaging can be critical in diagnosing the cause of pain.

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Functional Pain

By far, the most common cause of hip pain in teenagers is classified as “functional.” Functional hip is a type of pain in which no medical cause can be attributed as the cause of pain. This is sometimes referred to as “growing pains.” Functional pain, though irritating to teenagers, is not serious. It might be related to problems such as anxiety or reduced self-esteem.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

Perthes disease is an important and serious cause of hip pain in teenagers. Though children between 4 and 9 years of age are most frequently affected, the disease can also frequently affect adolescents. The condition occurs more frequently in males, who complain of a gradually increasing limp in one leg. This can be followed by pain in the hip, groin or knee. The condition is diagnosed by MRIs. Depending on the severity, affected adolescents might require bracing or surgery.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis, or SCFE, is a disease of the head of the femur. This condition frequently affects obese boys between the ages of 11 and 15. The disease stems from dislodgement of the growth plate from the top of the femur, which occurs for unknown reasons. Symptoms include limping and pain in the hip. Though the disease occurs in the hip joint, the pain might also be felt in the knees -- often a source of confusion for doctors evaluating a patient. The condition requires surgical treatment.

Other Causes of Hip Pain

Acute transient synovitis is a short-lasting disease of the hip joint that can occur after the common cold. Boys between the ages of 2 and 10 are most frequently affected. Congenital dysplasia of the hip is a hip disease that presents at birth. If untreated properly, older children and teens might have a limp and growth irritation. Rare causes of hip pain in teenagers include tumors, bacterial joint infections and rheumatoid arthritis.

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