Hip infections in children (coxitis fugax)

If your child complains of pain in his leg and starts limping, there is clearly something wrong. This usually results in fleeting hip inflammation, also called coxitis fugax. What exactly is this and what can you do about it? The text below is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor if your child complains of persistent pain in his leg. Coxitis fugax is Latin for transient hip inflammation. It is quite common in children between the ages of two and eight. Boys suffer from it more often than girls. It is not known how this happens.
Most children with fleeting hip infections do not even visit the doctor. In those cases, the inflammation is mild and quickly disappears. The child does complain of pain in the hip, but this is quickly dismissed as growing pains. By the time the parents start to suspect that something more is going on, the complaints have already passed.

Symptoms of volatile hip inflammation

Sometimes the complaints are more persistent. The child has clear pain in the hip radiating from the thigh to the knee. Small children are often unable to indicate where in the leg the pain is. The child no longer wants to put weight on the leg and starts to limp. Sometimes he no longer wants to put his foot flat on the ground and it is difficult for him to put on his socks or tie his shoelaces. There may be a slight increase.


The complaints usually arise after a viral infection. Therefore, the doctor will ask whether the child has recently been ill. Even a simple cold can be the cause. During the physical examination, the doctor looks at the mobility of the hip joint. The child will report pain when the upper leg falls out. If the child has a high fever, the complaints persist for a longer period of time or if the child has previously had such complaints, further investigation will be requested.

What is Coxitis fugax

This is an inflammation in the hip joint. Ultrasound examination can show that the joint capsule is swollen and that there is fluid in the joint.


The treatment consists of rest. The child should put as little strain on the leg as possible for a few days. This can vary from four to eight days. If the complaints do not subside, it is often advised to use Nurofen in addition. This is an anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen drink, suitable for young children. In extreme cases, hospitalization follows, where the child must lie still on the back with the leg in traction. That is, the leg goes up to a pulley with weight on it. It is not entirely clear whether this has a greater effect than giving the leg as much rest as possible at home.

X-ray examination

X-ray examination is done to rule out abnormalities in the hip joint. If in doubt, the doctor will request an X-ray examination. Perthes disease (a disease in which the femoral head is damaged due to insufficient blood supply) is thus ruled out. This disease mainly occurs in boys around the age of six and in the beginning the symptoms resemble those of coxitis fugax.

Blood tests

If your child has a high fever and is very ill, blood tests will be suggested. This is to rule out bacterial inflammation of the hip joint. If there is evidence of a bacterial infection, hospitalization will follow. The pus must then be removed by flushing the joint and then antibiotics are given through an IV.
Sometimes recurrences of the complaints occur. There is a high risk of recurrence, especially if the child contracts another infection such as a cold shortly after the symptoms have disappeared.

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