Irritable Hip (transient synovitis)

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-993/2022
  • Departments: Emergency Department, Paediatrics
  • Last Updated: 14 January 2022


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your child’s condition.  Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet.  It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion.  If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for your child.

What is Irritable Hip?

Irritable hip (or transient synovitis) is a temporary inflammation of the hip which is common in children. The inflammation of the hip causes the child to limp and may complain of pain in the hip or leg. The exact cause is not known but it commonly happens after a viral illness or a minor injury. Irritable hip usually goes away after 1-2 weeks and does not cause any long-term problems. A small number of children will go on to have further episodes.

What should I look out for?

Please return to the Emergency Department immediately if your child:

  • Becomes unwell
  • Develops a high temperature
  • Has increasing pain
  • Develops any obvious swelling or redness to the hip or leg
  • Is unable to put any weight onto the affected leg

These are symptoms which might indicate a more serious problem.

You should also see a doctor if your child is not better after 1-2 weeks.

How can I care for my child at home?

  • You should encourage your child to rest the affected leg as much as possible whilst they are sore.
  • Your child should not attend school or nursery until they have recovered.
  • Your child will naturally adopt the most comfortable position for themselves.
  • Allow your child to gradually go back to their usual activities as they improve.
  • Give regular pain relief medication such as paracetamol and / or ibuprofen given with food. Paracetamol can be given every four to six hours (no more than four times a day) and ibuprofen every six to eight hours (no more than three times a day). Do not exceed the dose stated on the bottle or packet for your child’s age group.
QR code to open leaflet