Perthes disease

What is it ?

Perthes Disease


Perthes disease is a disorder in children affecting the hip joint where the blood supply to the head of femur becomes inadequate. As a result the bone begins to soften and break down (known as necrosis). There is no identifiable cause for Perthes disease. Over time the body will begin to heal itself laying down new blood vessels and bone over several months and years to produce a new femoral head.


What are the symptoms of Perthes disease ?

Pain usually affects the groin and hip area and may cause the child to limp when walking. The leg may appear shorter with muscle wasting in the thigh and restricted range of movement. Diagnosis is usually confirmed with x-ray or bone scans.

We can do ..

The aims of physiotherapy for Perthes disease are to restore function and independence to maximise quality of life. Treatment by our specialist physiotherapists may include:

  • Advice regarding appropriate walking aids to maximise independence during initial stages e.g. crutches
  • Exercises to maintain and restore range of movement and muscle strength
  • Gait re-education to improve mobility
  • Exercises to improve balance and coordination
  • Provision of a home exercise programme
  • Advice on appropriate activities and which activities to avoid e.g. high impact activities
  • Hydrotherapy

Recovery from Perthes disease may take up to two years and although most children recover fully some may be left with permanent problems with their walking and therefore may require additional therapy at a later stage.

What you can do

You can assist your child with more sedentary activities in the early stage. Assistance to access swimming and hydrotherapy is very beneficial and then assist them to gradually increase their exercise as recommended by your medical practitioner and paediatric physiotherapist.

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