Osteochondritis deformans juvenilis

Osteochondritis deformans juvenilis

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Osteochondritis deformans juvenilis is a temporary condition in children in which the ball-shaped head of the thighbone, referred to as the femoral head, loses its blood supply. As a result, the head of the thighbone collapses.

    The body will absorb the dead bone cells and replace them with new bone cells.

  • The new bone cells will eventually reshape the head of the thighbone.

  • Osteochondritis deformans juvenilis causes the hip joint to become painful and stiff for a period of time.

  • The majority of cases affect one hip; 10-12 percent of cases affect both hips.

Although we do not know a direct cause for osteochondritis deformans juvenilis, there are several known risk factors. Osteochondritis deformans juvenilis is much more common in boys (approximately 5:1 male-female ratio). There is also an association of osteochondritis deformans juvenilis with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and in children who are, in general, more active than average (running, jumping, sports, etc). There is also an increased incidence in children who are small for their age (delayed bone age). Finally, there have been some recent studies that connect osteochondritis deformans juvenilis to prolonged exposure to second hand smoke. The prolonged inhalation of cigarette smoke can increase the risk of ischemia leading to the osteochondritis deformans juvenilis. In addition, the condition is found more often in the Asian, Eskimo, and Caucasian population.

Proper treatment during the course of the disease will help alleviate your child's pain and make sure your child's hip retains its normal shape and range of motion.


The first symptom is often limping, which is usually painless. Sometimes there may be mild pain that comes and goes.

Other symptoms may include:

    Hip stiffness that restricts movement in the hip.

  • Knee pain.

  • Limited range of motion.

  • Persistent thigh or groin pain.

  • Shortening of the leg, or legs of unequal length.

  • Wasting of muscles in the upper thigh.


Doctors look for a slight limp in your child's walk, a common sign of osteochondritis deformans juvenilis. They also ask questions about any pain your child might be feeling. Then they examine your child.

The doctor will gently move your child's legs, comparing the movement on the sore side with the movement on the other side.

Doctors may take X-rays to make sure osteochondritis deformans juvenilis is the problem. If the X-rays look normal, they may ask for a bone scanor an MRI.


The aim of treatment is to reduce hip pain and stiffness, prevent deformity of the head of the thigh bone, and achieve and maintain a full range of movement in the hip joint. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, where less than half the head of the femur is affected, bed rest and traction may be all that are needed.

In more severe cases, the femur may have to be splinted in position using a plaster cast or calipers. Occasionally, surgery is required.

Surgical Treatments: In some patients, a pelvic osteotomy, femoral osteotomy or combined pelvic/femoral osteotomy is required. During an osteotomy, the bone is cut below the infected area and turned so that another portion of the bone that is not affected by the disease is the new weight-bearing area.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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