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Hip pain in children (irritable hip)

Hip pain in children is most often caused by a condition called irritable hip, which usually gets better on its own. But it should always be checked because it could be a sign of something serious.

Causes of hip pain in children

A condition called irritable hip is the most common cause of hip pain in children. This is where the hip joint becomes sore and inflamed.

Irritable hip can be painful, but it's not usually serious and often gets better by itself.

Other possible causes of hip pain in children include:

  • an infected hip joint (septic arthritis)
  • an injury like a broken bone
  • a problem with the hip bones and blood supply to the hip joint (Perthes' disease)

These other causes are less common but more serious.

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

  • your child gets sudden pain in their hip, thigh or knee (hip problems can sometimes be felt in the thigh or knee)
  • your child is limping or cannot put any weight on 1 leg

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

What happens at your appointment

To find out what's causing your child's hip pain, a doctor or nurse may:

  • look at and feel your child's hip, leg or knee
  • try gently moving the leg in different directions
  • ask about any recent injuries or illnesses
  • arrange an X-ray

Sometimes a blood test or other scans may also be done to confirm it's nothing serious.

How to treat irritable hip yourself

Irritable hip usually gets better in 1 or 2 weeks and does not cause lasting problems.

If your child has irritable hip, you can usually look after them at home.


  • make sure they rest their leg until they are feeling better – keep them off nursery or school until they have recovered

  • give them ibuprofen for children or paracetamol for children for their pain

  • attend any follow-up appointments recommended by your doctor or nurse


  • do not let them do any activities that could put a lot of strain on their hip for at least 2 weeks – they can gradually return to their normal activities once they're feeling better (swimming is a good way to get the joint moving again)

Urgent advice: Take your child back to the GP if:

  • their hip pain is getting worse or has not improved
  • they get a high temperature or feel hot and shivery
  • they're still in pain after 2 weeks
  • their hip pain went away but has come back

This might mean they have a more serious problem.

Page last reviewed: 03 April 2024
Next review due: 03 April 2027