Gemma’s story – Perthes


My name is Gemma and my son had Perthes as a child. When he was seven I took him to the doctor as he was in agony with a lot of pain in his hips and in his knees. He had aches and pains in his legs and he was limping. At first there was some confusion as to the cause of the pains, it was thought that he might have fluid on his hips. However, after discussions and examinations by another consultant it was diagnosed as Perthes disease.

My son does not remember much about the treatment which started when he was 8 years, we had waited for almost a year from diagnosis to surgery. For a year before the surgery he was in a wheelchair and had to be carried upstairs.  The treatment involved an operation in Sheffield Children’s hospital, an osteotomy.  This surgery was considered necessary to improve the position of the ball and socket in the hip joint and to protect it from losing the round shape.  After the operation he used crutches for around 6 weeks but eventually he was able to discard the crutches and hop around. He also tried to carry on playing football with his crutches in hand too. There was no stopping him.

In the weeks and months after the operation my son attended physiotherapy, this was a great help to him as it relieved the pain and helped him to strengthen his muscles. The weekly physiotherapy sessions were not just helpful in regaining his physical strength, but they helped build his confidence and he soon became determined to get better and get on with his life. As part of his recovery he went swimming, this helped a lot as it was great exercise and enjoyable. He attended hospital for reviews and regular check- ups, and all the time he was building his strength and was playing football with good mobility.

My son has overcome his challenges, he is a healthy active motivated 18year old and is a professional athlete.

When we first got the diagnosis of Perthes we did not know anything about the condition, since then we have met and know many families where children have been treated for Perthes. We are happy to share our story with Steps as there will be children and parents who need to have information about the condition. Parents and children need to know that with Perthes there are a range of treatments that can help, indeed many children do well without any surgical intervention and often the hip regrows into a good shape. Early diagnosis is important as Perthes can be managed and it helps avoid problems later in life. The Steps website and social media channels have lots of information on Perthes including videos, webinars with orthopaedic consultants, family stories and fact sheets.