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Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease

What is Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease?

Legg-Calvé-Perthes (LCP) disease is a problem with the head of the thighbone (femoral head). The femoral head is the ball-like part of the bone that fits into the hip socket. With LCP disease, the blood supply diminishes. The reason for this is unknown. As a result, the femoral head becomes weak. A portion of it dies.

What causes LCP disease?

It is unknown why blood flow to the femoral head slows. What we do know is that boys ages 4-8 are most likely to develop LCP disease, and that it may also happen more commonly in some families.

What are the signs and symptoms of LCP disease?

  • Achy pain in the groin, hip, or knee (knee pain occurs when the pain from the hip travels to the knee)
  • Loss of range of motion (movement) in the hip
  • Walking with a limp. The limp is usually more noticeable after activity, and it may be painless.
  • Groin, hip, or knee pain while resting

How is LCP disease diagnosed?

The orthopedic specialist will check for a limp, stiffness in the hip, and for loss of motion. An X-ray will be done. An MRI and CT scan may also be done. These are tests that take images of the inside of the body to help the doctor properly diagnose the condition.

How is LCP disease treated?

The doctor will talk with you about the best treatment plan for your child. Generally, LCP is treated with one or a combination of the following.

  • Rest from sports and exercise — the doctor will tell you when it is safe for your child to resume exercise
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, as directed
  • Use of crutches or a walker, if instructed
  • See a physical therapist (PT) for a supervised program of exercises — your child's physical therapist or health care provider may also ask your child to do strengthening exercises at home
  • Depending on the severity of your child's disease, surgery may be needed
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