Perthes disease is a rare childhood hip disorder which affects children from the age group of four to twelve years. The disease affects a child’s hips when blood supply is interrupted to the ball or rounded head of the femur (thigh bone) temporarily. The inadequate blood supply makes the bone cells die gradually. Hence, perthes disease normally lasts for a number of years. As the condition persists, the child’s femur starts breaking apart. However, the bone start growing once blood supply to the femur commences and normalizes.
Perthes disease is a complex childhood hip disorder which may last for a period of time. The condition is caused due to inadequate blood supply to the femoral head of hip joint. As the blood supply ceases, the bone cells keep dying gradually. The bone cells start growing back once the blood supply becomes normal.
Perthes disease develops gradually over a period of time. The symptoms of the hip disorder differ from one child to another. The common symptoms of perthes disease are a limp, pain in the knee/thigh/hip/groin area, stiffness in the affected hip, the affected leg start shortening, and muscle wasting in the thigh.
Normally, perthes disease is diagnosed by examining the child’s thigh thoroughly. Also, initial physical examination results are confirmed through an X-ray. However, a bone scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan can be recommended to diagnose perthes disease more precisely.
The perthes disease is treated in a number of ways according to the child’s age and severity of the hip disorder. If the child is less than six years old, the hip disorder is treated through physiotherapy and home exercises. On the other hand, they may be advised to use crutches, bed rest, and wear a special leg brace/plaster cast. Surgery treatment is suggested only when the symptoms are severe in nature.
A child can recover quickly if perthes disease is diagnosed and treated without any delay. Normally, the younger children respond to the treatment more effectively without developing any hip joint disorder in the future. But if the child is more than 8 years of age, there are always chances that he may experience stiffness, arthritis, and similar hip joint problems in future.