Children's Hospital Colorado

Transient Synovitis in Kids

What is transient synovitis?

Transient synovitis is an inflammation in the hip joint that causes pain, limp and sometimes refusal to bear weight. This occurs in pre-pubescent children and is the most common cause of hip pain. It occurs when a viral infection, such as an upper respiratory infection, moves to and settles in the hip joint.

Transient means lasting for only a short time. This condition is temporary and in normal cases clears itself in 7 to 10 days. Because the condition can be alarming, you should see a doctor if you witness the signs and symptoms of transient synovitis in your child.

What causes transient synovitis?

The cause of transient synovitis is unknown. Experts are unclear as to why the synovial membrane that surrounds the hip becomes inflamed.

Who gets transient synovitis?

Transient synovitis is most common in children 2-8 years of age. Boys are affected two to four times as often as girls. It most commonly occurs in children following a viral infection such as an upper respiratory virus.

What are the signs and symptoms of transient synovitis?

  • Limp
  • Refusal to bear weight
  • Hip, groin and/or thigh pain
  • Low grade fever
  • Previous viral infection

What tests are used to diagnose transient synovitis?

Transient synovitis is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning the diagnosis is made once other more dangerous causes of acute hip pain are ruled out. The following tests will be done to rule out other more dangerous causes of hip pain.

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays
  • Blood work (CBC, CRP, ESR)
  • Ultrasound of the hip to look for fluid collection
  • MRI

Why choose Children's Hospital Colorado for transient synovitis tests?

In our Hip Program at Children's Colorado, we have orthopedic experts who specialize in pediatric hips. We use X-rays, blood work, ultrasound and a physical examination to determine a diagnosis.

What can you expect from these tests?

Tests are done to determine whether the hip is irritated and inflamed or infected. All of our X-rays are done during your clinic visit with your provider. Ultrasound is located in radiology and can be done prior to the visit with your doctor. If your doctor orders blood work for your child, it can be completed at the outpatient lab on the main level of the hospital. If these tests are needed, it may take a day of two to get everything completed for your doctor to make a diagnosis.

How do providers at Children's Colorado make a diagnosis?

A diagnosis for transient synovitis is a diagnosis of exclusion. By working with radiology, infectious disease and rheumatology, our experts can rule out all other causes of hip pain. Ruling out other causes can lead to a proper diagnosis.

How is transient synovitis treated?

Transient synovitis is a temporary condition that will clear itself in 7-10 days. In the meantime it is important for your child to rest his hip and take anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen as prescribed by your doctor.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's transient synovitis?

By working together as a team, we are able to develop a comprehensive approach to both patient diagnosis and individualized treatment plans. Specialists from our Hip Program offer a broad spectrum of treatment options for our patients and extend to include experts in the fields of rehabilitation, physical therapy, rheumatology, anesthesiology and pain.

With a sole focus on hip disease in young patients, our Hip Program is nationally recognized for excellence in hip surgeries. Also, our doctors educate healthcare providers around the nation on hip diseases and surgery. Our goal is to provide our patients with options for pain control, function improvement, and preservation of the hip joint.

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