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Transient synovitis of the hip

Alternative Names
transient synovitis

Transient synovitis is an inflammation within the hip joint.

What is going on in the body?
Transient synovitis is a non-traumatic hip pain, which means that it is not caused by an injury. Instead, pain is caused by swelling and inflammation in the hip. Transient synovitis often follows an upper respiratory infection such as a cold or flu.

The person with the illness often refuses to walk or walks with a limp. Children 2 years old are most often affected, although it also strikes children between the ages of 3 and 10. It appears to be more common in boys than girls.

What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?
Symptoms of transient synovitis can include:
  • pain in one hip
  • a limp or inability to bear weight because of the hip pain
  • low grade fever at the beginning of the illness
  • knee and thigh pain on the affected side
Often, the person with this illness does not appear to be ill.

What are the causes and risks of the disease?
The cause of transient synovitis is not known. It often follows an upper respiratory infection.

What can be done to prevent the disease?
Since the cause of transient synovitis is not known, there is no way to prevent it.

How is the disease diagnosed?
To diagnose transient synovitis, a doctor will take a detailed history and perform a complete physical examination. Tests may include:
  • an ultrasound of the hip
  • joint x-rays of the hip
  • blood tests
A sample of joint fluid from the hip also may be sent to the laboratory to be analysed.

What are the long-term effects of the disease?
Usually there are no long-term effects from transient synovitis.

What are the risks to others?
This condition is not known to be contagious.

What are the treatments for the disease?
Transient synovitis usually heals without any treatment in 7 to 10 days. Sometimes doctors suggest bed rest. Crutches may be recommended while the inflammation and pain is resolving. In rare cases, the use of traction with slight flexion of the hip may be needed. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, called NSAIDS, may help decrease the pain and inflammation.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
NSAIDS may cause stomach upset.

What happens after treatment for the disease?
Transient synovitis usually resolves without specific treatment within 7 to 10 days. If hip pain or a limp persists after this time, it is important to see a doctor. A repeat examination will be needed to rule out other causes of the pain.

How is the disease monitored?
Repeat joint x-rays may be needed. Usually complete recovery is achieved without the need for long-term monitoring.

Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel
Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia
Last Updated: 1/10/2001
Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request

This website and article is not a substitute for independent professional advice. Nothing contained in this website is intended to be used as medical advice and it is not intended to be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes or as a substitute for your own health professional's advice.  All Health and any associated parties do not accept any liability for any injury, loss or damage incurred by use of or reliance on the information.


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