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Bone and joint infections

Occasionally children and teens will experience infections either in their bones or joint. A child's anatomy is different from an adult's, so children have an increased risk of a viral or bacterial infection. Most of the time, the first symptom of a bone or joint infection is pain. If it is in the hip or leg, one of the first symptoms may be a limp or refusing to walk. Other symptoms can include redness an dwelling around the affected bone or joint and fever.

At Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, our pediatric-trained orthopedic surgeons have vast experience in treating and managing the care of children and teens with bone and joint infections. One of the benefits of having your child treated at Children's is that our surgeons and advanced practice providers are able to work with infectious disease specialists to manage the care of your child's condition. Along with your pediatrician, they will provide the best care possible for your child, from initial diagnosis through return to home. If your child has a minor infection, he or she may be managed on an outpatient basis. However, if it is more significant, surgical treatment and inpatient care may be necessary.

Common conditions:

Symptoms may include redness, swelling and pain with movement of the affected joint. If it's in the hip or knee, he or she may refuse to walk. As it gets worse, the child may have a fever and appear ill. If you suspect your child has septic arthritis or osteomyelitis, you should bring him or to the emergency room right away.

  • Transient (toxic) synovitis

Viral infections of the hip are very common. This is first noticed usually when a child starts to limp with no history of injury. The child will usually still walk but with a limp, not have a fever, and not act that sick. It is worth having the child evaluated to make sure is nothing more serious. Lab work and X-rays will usually be done to rule out a bacterial infection or undiagnosed fracture. 

To make an appointment, call Central Scheduling at (414) 607-5280, or toll-free at (877) 607-5280. If you feel this is an emergency, call 911 or go to the emergency department.

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