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(Irritable Hip, Toxic Synovitis)


Transient synovitis of the hip is a temporary irritation of the tissue that lines the hip joint. It can cause pain and difficulty when walking.

Hip Bone and Local Musculature
Abdominal muscle and pelvis
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The cause of transient synovitis of the hip is unknown. It often happens after a recent cold or stomach virus but the virus is not suspected to be the cause.

Risk Factors

Transient synovitis of the hip is more common in children aged 2-10 years. It is also more common in boys.


Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and swelling in the hip (pain may also pass to the groin, thigh, or knee)
  • Holding the leg and hip without moving (in infants and younger children)
  • Difficulty walking and standing
  • Refusal to bear weight on the affected leg

Your child will otherwise appear well.


You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

There are many reasons for hip pain. Other more serious causes may be ruled out with further examination and tests such as:

  • Blood tests—to look for potential infection of the joint
  • Images of the hip—to look for any damage to the tissue or bone of the hip

Transient synovitis may be diagnosed if there are no other obvious causes of the hip problems.


Transient synovitis will usually pass on its own in 5-7 days. Rest and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help manage discomfort.

Follow up appointments will be done to make sure the hip is improving as expected. Further testing may be done if the hip does not improve as expected.


There is no known way to prevent this condition as the cause is unknown.


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 

Kids Health—Nemours Foundation 


Canadian Paediatric Society 

Health Canada 


Toxic synovitis. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated September 2014. Accessed August 24, 2017.

Transient synovitis of the hip. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  . Updated November 2, 2016. Accessed August 24, 2017.

Transient synovitis of the hip. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed August 24, 2017.

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