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Understanding Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a pediatric condition that occurs when the blood supply to the femoral head – or the “ball” component of the ball-and-socket hip joint – is temporarily halted. Because the bone relies on blood flow to receive vital nutrients, the ball component weakens, losing its round shape and causing the joint to destabilize.

Causes & Symptoms

Researchers aren’t exactly sure what triggers Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, but have noted that boys between the ages of 4 and 8 are most likely to be affected. Symptoms are usually experienced in only one hip and can include:

  • Hip pain
  • Marked stiffness in the lower body
  • Limping
  • Reduced range of motion in the hip joint

It’s normal for children to have growing pains on occasion, but be sure to consult with your family’s pediatrician if your child begins to walk with a limp or experiences persistent discomfort in the groin area, hip, or knee. 

Treatment Options

Treatment for Legg-Calve-Perthes disease focuses on preserving the round shape of the femoral head and keeping it securely in the socket. Children under the age of 6 still have soft, underdeveloped bones that can often be treated successfully with conservative therapies like bracing, traction, and physical rehabilitation. For some children, surgical intervention may be recommended to improve the shape, strength, and flexibility of the hip joint.

From tailored physical therapy regimens to the latest advances in surgical care, Tampa General Hospital’s Children's Medical Center offers a full spectrum of specialized care for patients with Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.

Use TGH’s Physician Finder to find a pediatric orthopedic surgeon to treat your child.