Weightbearing and activity restrictions are commonly prescribed during the active stages of Perthes disease. These restrictions, ranging from cast or brace treatment with nonweightbearing to full weightbearing with activity restrictions, may have a substantial influence on the physical, mental, and social health of a child. However, their impact on the patient’s quality of life is not well-described.
After controlling for confounding variables, we asked (1) are restrictions on weightbearing and activity associated with physical health measures (as expressed by the Patient-Reported Outcome Measurement Information System [PROMIS] mobility, PROMIS pain interference, and PROMIS fatigue) of children in the active stages of Perthes disease? (2) Are these restrictions associated with poorer scores for mental health measures (PROMIS depressive symptoms and PROMIS anxiety)? (3) Are these restrictions associated with poorer scores for social health measures (PROMIS peer relationships)?
Between 2013 and 2020, 211 patients with Perthes disease at a single institution were assigned six PROMIS measures to assess physical, mental, and social health. Patients who met the following eligibility criteria were analyzed: age 8 to 14 years old, completion of six PROMIS measures, English-speaking, and active stage of Perthes disease (Waldenstrom Stage I, II, or III). Weightbearing and activity restrictions were clinically recommended to patients in the initial through early reossification stages of Perthes disease when patients had increasing pain, loss of hip motion, loss of hip containment, progression of femoral head deformity, increased hip synovitis, and femoral head involvement on MRI or as a postoperative regimen. Patients were categorized into four intervention groups based on weightbearing and activity regimen. We excluded 111 patients who did not meet the inclusion criteria. The following six pediatric self-report PROMIS measures were assessed: mobility, pain interference, fatigue, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and peer relationships. Of the 100 patients, 36 were categorized into the no-restriction regimen, 27 into the mild-restriction regimen, 25 into the moderate-restriction regimen, and 12 into the severe-restriction regimen at the time of PROMIS administration. The median (range) age at diagnosis was 8 years old (range 2 to 13 years). There were 85 boys and 15 girls. Eleven patients had hips in Waldenstrom Stage I, 10 were in Stage II, and 79 were in Stage III. Forty-four patients had hips classified as lateral pillar B and 47 patients as lateral pillar C. Nine patients had not reached the mid-fragmentation stage for appropriate lateral pillar classification by the time they took the PROMIS survey. ANOVA was used to compare differences between the mean PROMIS T-scores of these weightbearing/activity regimens. Results were assessed with a significance of p < 0.05 and adjusted for Waldenstrom stage, gender, age at diagnosis, and history of major surgery using multivariate regression analysis.
After controlling for confounding variables, the mild- (β regression coefficient -15 [95% CI -19 to -10]; p < 0.001), moderate- (β -19 [95% CI -24 to -14]; p < 0.001), and severe- (β -25 [95% CI -30 to -19]; p < 0.001) restriction groups were associated with worse mobility T-scores compared with the no-restriction group, but no association was detected for the pain interference or fatigue measures. Weightbearing and activity restrictions were not associated with mental health measures (depressive symptoms and anxiety). Weightbearing and activity restrictions were not associated with social health measures (peer relationships). Earlier Waldenstrom stage was associated with worse pain interference (β 10 [95% CI 2 to 17]; p = 0.01) and peer relationships scores (β -8 [95% CI -15 to -1]; p = 0.03); female gender was linked with worse depressive symptoms (β 7 [95% CI 2 to 12]; p = 0.005) and peer relationships scores (β -6 [95% CI -12 to 0]; p = 0.04); and earlier age at diagnosis was associated with worse peer relationships scores (β 1 [95% CI 0 to 2]; p = 0.03). History of major surgery had no connection to any of the six PROMIS measures.
We found that weightbearing and activity restriction treatments are associated with poorer patient-reported mobility in the active stages of Perthes disease after controlling for Waldenstrom stage, gender, age at diagnosis, and history of surgery. Weightbearing/activity restrictions, however, are not associated with pain interference, fatigue, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and peer relationships. Understanding how these treatments are associated with quality of life in patients with Perthes disease can aid in decision-making for providers, help set expectations for patients and their parents, and provide opportunities for better education and preparation. Because of the chronic nature of Perthes disease, future studies may focus on longitudinal trends in patient-reported outcomes to better understand the overall impact of this disease and its treatment.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study.