4 Year Old "Popping Hip"

Updated on February 16, 2009
E.B. asks from Portland, OR
13 answers

My 4 year old will just be sitting, walking, laying, etc. When he all of a sudden goes "ahhhh" He then spreads his legs apart past shoulder width and squats. He wiggles. Then he says. "that's better" When you ask him what he is doing he says the he needed to pop his leg, It hurt. He does it at east a dozen times a day. If you don't let him do it he freaks out. He crys. Could it be hip issues? Should I take him to see the ped? It makes me wonder because you pick up my 21 month old, she barley arches her back and you can feel the cracking all the way up her spine. I have really "lose" joints. Could it be that? Coud this cause joint issue in the future for them? arthritis?

Any insight would be great.
Thanks in advance

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answers from Yakima on

E. most deaffenetly take im to the doctor he may just be duble jointed but it could be some thing els & you need to know now befor it gets any worse.

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answers from Eugene on

E., I'm a physical therapist and recommend that you tell your pediatrician about this. Your son's hips were probably checked for congenital hip problems (things that show up at birth) when he was an infant, but it doesn't hurt to check. This certanily isn't an emergency unless he continuously complains of his hip being painful, but it's worth checking into. Good Luck:)

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answers from Portland on

Hi E.. I have a son that "pops" ... It sounds like it must hurt, but he says it makes him feel better. The chiropractor said when strecthing and movement "pop" joints, it's a healthy form of self adjusting. It's just air being expelled from the joints. The habit of forcing it concerns me though. There is a difference between popping and cracking or gritching though, where joints are rubbing bone-on-bone or there's been an injury and the snap comes from an impingment. That's not something a child would do intentionally because it often hurts.

If you are really concerned the BEST doctor to take your son to is an Orthopedic Surgeon, one that focuses on children would be prime. I had a second son that had a congenital hip deformity and though it did not pop per se, it did cause him discomfort. He really needed some specialized care. Peds don't always pick up on these kinds of problems and can easily brush them off (my son's doctor did). Thank goodness we had a friend who was an orthopedic dr who told me to have it checked further. I did and after some pretty extensive care he's fine (playing basketball and baseball).

Even if there isn't a "problem" with your son's hip, it will give you peace of mind to have him checked by a competent chiropractor (ask around to find a good one that works with kids and/or athletes), and have an orthopedic surgeon examine him. Hopefully you have insurance--it makes it easier to go, and if there is anything that needs attending, you can get the best care you can find.

Hope this helps.

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answers from Seattle on

The femur/pelvis joint is SUPPOSED to be the strongest one in the body. So much so, that most people actually break their hip before the femur dislocates from the hip.

That said, years of gymnastics and stretching those tendons/ligaments on purpose, means that BOTH of my legs will actually dislocate with very little provocation, and my right one is notorious for coming HALF out of joint. Ugh. Pain in the keister. It's aggravating & painful & slightly nauseating, until it pops back in, and then it's *almost* better then sex. Ahhhhhhhhhh. To feel human again.

While it may be nothing (ie just a quirky stretch), I would take your love to the doc to have them check out the joint/tendons/ligaments. Because what your son is doing sounds like what I have to do. Flexibility is great. Dislocation (even partial) is NOT. That joint is typically so strong though, that most medical professionals deem partial dislocation impossible...until they see a demonstration. At your son's age, there are definitely a ton of things that can be done to strengthen that connection, if that indeed is what's going on.


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answers from Portland on

Usually joint popping is normal and harmless, and can even temporarily increase comfort and flexibility. There is a capsule around a joint that contains lubricating fluid. Gases that are present in the fluid can be forced out of the capsule under pressure. This "pop" can result in a little less pressure on the joint until the gas builds up again. For most of us, the pressure from the gas is hardly noticable. (Try googling "popping joints" or "cracking joints," and you'll get lots of information.)

I'm a little concerned about your son's distress if he doesn't get to do this, however. Significant discomfort or pain could signal a more serious problem. I'd sure want to get a doctor to examine him if he were my child.



answers from Portland on

My mom's knees almost always pop when she kneels down, and mine often do too (not as often, but they still do sometimes). Sometimes if they don't pop it hurts. When I get pregnant, because I have scoliosis, my right hip has issues, and often during the pregnancy and for some time afterwards I have to put my right ankle above my left knee and push down on my right knee to pop my right hip. Sometimes it hurts to walk if I don't do this.

With this in mind, I would agree with the others: check with your ped, and also you might want to check with a chiropractor. If there is an issue with bones, the chiropractor could probably do more than the pediatrician, though you will probably need the doctor's referral to get insurance to cover the chiropractic work.



answers from Spokane on

Hi E. - It very well may be related to your "lose" joints. The good thing is your son has figured a way to "fix" himself when it bothers him. I would call your peditrician and ask, you more than likely will talk with his nurse but they can give some wonderful advice on what it might be & what to do. If the nurse does not know they always check with the doctor and call you back. This will save you an office call. If the dr wants to see him then make sure to go in. He may refer you to a chiropractor or even a different specialist that deals more with joints & muscles than with the bones like a chiropractor. They may also refer you to a physical therapist after they know what is going on. This PT can help him learn the better ways of moving his body to help alleviate any issues he comes across as well as helping his body to use all its muscles effectively.

Another thing is to is review his meals & yours too with a nutritionalist. They can help you both with your diet and see about adding things in that will help with your "lose" joints and maybe help your son too. By working on both fronts you may be able to find the cause as well as help for it. I know that glucosamine can help with joint issues but again working with a specialist in those areas will help you pinpoint what will work best for both of you because what might work for one may not work for another. Good luck



answers from Anchorage on

My 3 year old son has juvenile RA. We had to go to an auto-immune specialist. His joints would hurt so bad he could not walk, and he also has a lot of inflammation behind his eyes. Also linked are his cradle cap and eczema.



answers from Portland on

It can't hurt to have a doctor check this out just to make sure it is not something major.

I have had the same issue for as long as I can remember. It is painful when it happens, so I am glad he knows how to relieve it. I have always just attributed it to the fact that I am double-jointed, so are my siblings, and they have the same thing happen.

I don't know if this helps at all but at least you can know he is not the only one.



answers from Richland on

Please take them to the DR, especially with the hip issue.



answers from Seattle on

Try a chiropractor. My chiropractor does wonders for me. He also does children as young as newborns. If you live near Kent-Covington try Family Chiropractor and Dr. John Wood. Good luck.



answers from Seattle on

Hello E.,

like you I have really "loose joints" as well, it runs in my family and does cause some problems, but nothing major.
My daughter also seems to have inherited it and she regularly freaks me out when she cracks her joints - it's just such an icky feeling/sound.

Anyways, I would take it to your doctor, just to make sure there is nothing more serious going on...



answers from Portland on

I would talk to the pediatrition. Sure that's the obvious answer, but no one could figure out why my back had hurt all the way from junior high, and why I needed to pop my hip. It turned out that it was my sacreilliam joint overlapping and catching some muscle. Another possibility is "air" or nitrogen bubbles in the hip joint itself. This is always a little painful. I mean, doesn't it feel a little painful before we crack our nuckles?