35 answers

2 Yr Old Suddenly Can't Walk

Help! I have an almost 3 year old who woke up this morning saying her heel hurt. I said ok and put her down and she immediately hit the floor. I thought maybe she slept on it wrong and it was sleeping so I picked her up and carried her. I rubbed her foot and looked at it -- it was fine. 30 minutes later the same thing. She can absolutely not put any pressure on her left foot. Took her to the urgent care , xrays and nothing. There is no swelling, bruising, checked for glass, slivers, she can move it fine, I can touch it, twirl it and nothing bothers her until she steps downs. I usually am not easily bothered but I am really starting to get concerned. All day she has been crawling around and scooting -- every time she tries to stand on it she hits the floor. ER told me to wait a couple of days and then go back. A couple of days? Anyone have and suggestions, similar situation. Yesterday she was fine running, riding her bike -- no falls or anything yesterday.

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Thanks so much for all the advice. I read all the responses twice and feel a little better. She woke up this morning and was limping but within a few minutes she was walking fine. I call the ped anyway and she said there is a virus going around and that was one of the symptoms -- we have another appointment next week to see her and discuss a blood test to rule out all other possibilities. Thank you so much -- I got more answers and advice from all of you than from going to the stupid urgent care! Next time this will be my first stop! THANKS!

Featured Answers

I'd take her to a pediatric orthopedic MD. Mark Moran and Parkview Orthopedics is good. He is in Joiliet by Silver Cross and in Palos on College Drive.

Just a note to add another 'doomsday story' of what it could be. Had same thing happen to a co-worker. Son just physically couldn't walk anymore. After tons of tests, found out it was Muscular Dystrophy. That is when the muscles start braking down. Around two is when it starts to come into affect and walking is the first thing it affects. But must take a test just for that to see if thats it.

My son who is now 2 1/2 did this about 6 months ago. He woke up and wouldn't walk. Started to scream when I had him try. I even walked away from him thinking that he would walk to me. Nope. Nothing worked. Dr did xrays and nothing.
I too thought he might have slept on it the wrong way.
He did the crawling and scooting when he wanted to get somewhere, but mostly just sat and played.

The next day he was fine and we haven't had any issues since.

I don't have a answer for you, but can say I have been there and my son was fine the next day.

Good Luck to you.

More Answers

Hi T.,
Looks like you're on the right track and got a lot of good responses. A friend of mine's child had similar symptoms--he woke up one day and couldn't walk/use his legs. They took him to the dr. and he was diagnosed with a virus thing called "toxic cynovitis", which means the virus was affecting the joints. In his case, it was more his knees/hips, but possibly if it was that in your daughter, it was affecting her left foot/ankle joints. If this is what she has, the good news is you just wait it out for a few days and it goes away on its own. My friend gave her son Motrin for the pain. Hope this helps--just thought I would give you that possible diagnosis to maybe ask your doc about if he hasn't already brought it up.

I currently have the same situation right with my friends son. he has not been able to walk for more than a week now and the doctors said nothing is wrong with his foot.

i tried seeing the answers that you got from the other mom's but i am unable to.

PLease help she doesn't know what to do.

Wow...that's very strange! I would be concerned too. Follow your instincts. If you really think this is still a concern by tomorrow, Hinsdale Orthopaedic has a wonderful practice and has a few locations. We've been there quite a few times. (both the parents and children have had to see dr's there). 2-year-olds are always so busy...I wonder if she did something the day before that you weren't aware of-perhaps hitting her heel... Good luck. I'm hoping it vanishes as quickly as it came.

Hi, T.. I had a similar issue with my son, on two occasions. One was when he was about your daughters age. He was limping and favoring one foot for about two days. Of course this was making me crazy and I thought for sure he broke something. I took him into the doctor after he limped and would not run and when the doc said "set him down, let's see what's going on, run to me buddy." My son ran straight down the hall to him like nothing was ever wrong. I was so embarrassed. Fast forward to age 7. He was out sledding with his father and had a crash with a younger girl. He could barely walk on his foot. We gave him a few days to rest it and see if it was just sprained or pulled and then we took him in. X-rays at the ped found nothing. We then took him to an orthopedic specialist and he found nothing. He told us that he was definately hurt and that in young children, there can sometimes be stress fractures and things that we cannot see on x-rays. Their smaller bones in their feet can be like green tree branches that still seem well enough, but have been stressed and are painful enough to hurt while walking. my son received an air cast that helped him keep it stable. He felt better in about a month. I still do not know what was REALLY wrong with his foot/ankle, but I do know that when your child is not walking, it doesn't matter if you can see a break or not, they could be hurt. I would watch her and see if there are any times when she IS using it, and if not, I would take her in for x-rays. Even one day can seem like an eternity when your child is in pain.

Hi! I know exactly what you are going through. My 5 year old had the same thing twice this winter. Has your daughter had a cold recently? When my son could put any pressure on his legs, (he said it hurt behind his knees) I immediatly took him to the doc. He told me that there was a virus that had leg pain as one of the symptoms. He said it could last about 3 days, but by the next day he was up and walking and by that evening everything was back to normal. Hope this gives you a little peace of mind.

My 20 month old was very cranky for two weeks and then started falling and then suddenly she couldn't walk anymore. The pediatrician thought she had Toxic synovitis (a condition affecting children that causes hip pain and limping). We didn't think that seemed right and after some discussion we went to a pediatric neurologist. The neurologist said she had Guillian Barre Syndrome. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/detail_gbs.htm

It's a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs sometimes spreading to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the patient is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening - potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate - and is considered a medical emergency. Such a patient is often put on a respirator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems.

Luckily she didn't progress that quickly. We took her to the hospital, did a spinal tap to confirm the diagnosis and she had 4 days of intravenous immunoglobulins. She is stronger already. Thankfully most patients recover from even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Its rare, especially in children, but the neurologist said he thinks it's under-diagnosed.

I just read a research paper depicting a similar case in a 7 year old boy. He was sent to the ER by his family physician and it was discovered he had a fever. Luckily, he was admitted to the hospital and the next day he was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. He had trouble maintaining blood pressure and had to be placed on machines to support his life functions until the antibiotics started working. Bacterial meningitis is most common in children under 2 years old. Do not hesitate to take her to the ER. It is absolutely abnormal for a child that age to non weightbear through an extremity. You can also make a suggestion to the staff that she be checked for cancer (as was also posted) and bacterial meningitis.

Hi T. - trust your instincts...if she is still the same (or not improving), you should take her back in, or take her to the pediatrician at the very least (they are more in tune with children and how to communicate with them compared to ER docs). It is possible that it is neurologic which can affect motor function (I am a nurse so sorry for the jargon). There are some neurologic tests they should do if the x-ray shows nothing. They can also do a bone scan or MRI which can show finer details. If she is improving, it is probably nothing serious but if your instincts are telling you otherwise, trust them. Look forward to an update on what it is. Good luck.

wow same here it all started today in the morning my two year old wanted me to pick him up from his bed he is walk in funny and same left foot and has nothing on it i went to the er and they told me the same thing. how is she doing know?

my 2 yr old granddaughter woke up this am and could not walk on her left leg. the dr said it was a virus. i didnt beleive her until i read this article. thanks

I'd take her to a pediatric orthopedic MD. Mark Moran and Parkview Orthopedics is good. He is in Joiliet by Silver Cross and in Palos on College Drive.

GO to your regular pediatrician and explain the situation. Not to sound scary, but there are some things kids can get that cause bone pain, but do not have to do with fractures and such. I would request a CBC too, not just xrays.

My daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at 23 months, and she had bone pain as one of her symptoms.

Hopefully its just growing pains or something easy like that.

Good luck!

If you're not satisfied, take her back to the ER...or see someone! I wouldn't want to wait a few days either.

My son who is now 2 1/2 did this about 6 months ago. He woke up and wouldn't walk. Started to scream when I had him try. I even walked away from him thinking that he would walk to me. Nope. Nothing worked. Dr did xrays and nothing.
I too thought he might have slept on it the wrong way.
He did the crawling and scooting when he wanted to get somewhere, but mostly just sat and played.

The next day he was fine and we haven't had any issues since.

I don't have a answer for you, but can say I have been there and my son was fine the next day.

Good Luck to you.

could be heel spur or virus and even the influenza b virus can make a child not walk! defintiely take her back
J.

I would call my child's Pediatrician right away. They are usually better at diagnosing things than the ER. I wouldn't wait a couple of days.

If you are truly concerned or it continues, contact an Orthopedic doctor to schedule an appointment. I have not found Urgent Care Centers to be very helpful. They primarily treat immediate issues an then refer you to a specialist.

Did they just x-ray her ankle or her whole leg? Just wondering if the hurt is further up (like her shin or knee) and she is having a hard time communicating that. Hope she is feeling better soon!

A friend of mine has a 3 year old, this happened to him and it turned out to be quite serious. He had a bacterial infection in his hip! They had to keep him in the hospital almost a month, insert an IV into his hip to inject antibiotics. Not sure all what had to be done, this happened to a co-worker, so I only got bits and pieces, but ask the Doctor about this possibility.
Good luck

We had a similiar situation when my son was 3 1/2. He wouldn't walk on his leg either and crawled around as well, he did not complain about pain but would not walk or stand on his leg. We did take him in for xrays becuase our ped. said kids this age don't fake it. Well this also started the day before I had a c-section for my 2nd child. My oldest kept this up for about 3 days (absolutely would not put any weight on his leg)and then all of a sudden started walking and was fine. I guess he needed a bit of attention with all the craziness going on with another baby coming!?

Not to scare you though we did have a neighbor who's little girl with Down's Syndrome did something similiar and she ended up having lukemia. So if you feel something more is going on always trust your mothering voice inside.

B., Mother of 2 wonderful boys ages 7 and 4.

T.,
I second Jean's suggestion to get a blood count. My daughter had a similar situation at the age of 28 months. Also. sit back and think of any other symptoms she is having. Tired, bruising,pale. It seems a bllod count could really put your mind at ease. Hopefully it is just some sort of growing pain.
Take Care,
M.

Hi T.,

I would call and let your peditrician know what is going on. I'd suggest an xray of her whole leg (if they only did her foot) because it could be that she has injured herself higher up and it was not discovered.

Kids bones are very soft, she could have a fracture that just did not show up on xray. I personally would not wait a few days, I'd call your own doc right away. Please let us know what happens, hope she is feeling better soon!

T.,

My son went through this 2 times at almost exactly the same age. The first time was worse - same as you - he couldn't even get around. The peds took x-rays of everything on that side - up to his mid-back, in case something in his back was causing pain in his leg. Both instances, we were unable to discover what the problem was (at one point we also had bloodwork done, and we saw a specialist who checked things out neurologically). It's scary, so absolutely go see your ped and I'll say a pray that your little one improves. Keep us posted. D.

you must take her to your ped- when it comes to matters like this I would never take my child to an urgent care- urgent care is good for ear infections or sore throats. take her to your ped today- your ped can order certain blood tests and refer to a specialist if needed

It could be this: Plantar Fasciitis (Heel Spurs). I have been having problems with my foot and friend who is a runner says that's what's wrong with me. It is worse after sleeping which could be why it hurt her so much in the morning. She recommended getting a can of frozen orange juice and rolling my foot on it each morning. It is a combination of the rolling and the cold that helps. It supposedly is hard to heal and hard to diagnosis.

This sounds so familair to me. Last Aug. my son DID fall and complained of his ankle hurting. It was a Sun. so we waited till Monday to take him to the dr. She x-rayed the ankle and nothing. He crawled and scooted for 2 1/2 weeks!!! We were told it was a sprained ankle. We happened to take him back for his 3 yr. appt. He was still not walking on it. The dr. re-x-rayed and came up with nothing. She gave us the name of the ped. orthopedic dr (Lorrin Brown in Munster, IN) he took more x-rays and sure enough he had had a brokend tibia!!!!! MY POOR BABY!!! He was three and THOUGHT it was his ankle. He's pretty articulate and is able to tell us a lot, but he was only 3 and couldn't pinpoint his pain. Did they x-ray the whole leg? She's so little it may be that she can't quite tell you what hurts and she thinks it's her heel because it hurts to stand up. I'd really suggest this Dr. Brown. His bedside manner is zilch, but he knows his stuff! I wish you all the best luck! I just shuttered when I read your story it was so familar! I hope she's better soon. ~Beth

My 14 year old had a similar situation when he was one. He suddenly couldn't walk. he screamed every time I would put him in or out of the car seat. We went to the peds. but he was happy and seemed pain free when he did an exam on his hips or legs. We had xrays. All negative. He just wouldn't bear weight on one leg. He resorted to crawling that day but then stopped altogether because it seemed his wrist hurt him. We were back to the ER that evening for xrays of the wrist. We also had blood work done which showed and elevated alk phos. level. That is usually indicative of something wrong with the bone or liver. The alk phos. was sky high. We had a bone scan but nothing showed up. Within the time we had all of this work up, he started to walk a little better. My doctor finally assumed it was an inflammation of the synovial fluid in his hip joint. it was better in 3 or 4 days but his wrist still hurt. We then realized he had fallen out of his high chair with the baby sitter and that's why it was hurting him when I put him in or out of the car seat. He had a sprain. It was coincidental that he had 2 separate problems that were causing similar symptoms: decreased use. I was a wreck. About a month later we repeated the alk phos. level and it had come down to almost normal. I guess a virus /inflammation in joints is not uncommon. Give it a couple days.

Just a note to add another 'doomsday story' of what it could be. Had same thing happen to a co-worker. Son just physically couldn't walk anymore. After tons of tests, found out it was Muscular Dystrophy. That is when the muscles start braking down. Around two is when it starts to come into affect and walking is the first thing it affects. But must take a test just for that to see if thats it.

I would for sure follow up with your pediatrician. In regards to what a previous poster said you did the right thing taking her to Urgent Care. They have qualified xray techs, drs and the xray's have to be read by the radiologist at the main hospital(I know from experience there:) and obviously your doctor wasn't open on a Sunday. Also perhaps going to a pediatric orthopedist if it doesn't improve. M and M orthopedics has an office at Rush Copley and in Naperville. Good luck and keep us posted what happened!

I have an eight year old son that is experiencing that same description but it has been a month now and he is still unable to walk. We've seen lots of doctors but they can't seem to find anything. HELP!!!! We are currently overseas--anyone with that same problem....

that would absolutely scare me to death! i would call her regular doctor and say that i had been to the emergency room and had been dismissed, but that i was seriously concerned about a neurological or spinal issue. then go into your doc office and wait until they can fit you in.

Ok, this may be dumb, and I do not by any means want to down play your daughters injury if it's serious. BUT is there anyway she could be "faking"? Sometimes if little children see someone else with and injury and that person has a cast/bandage/brace, etc. the child wants to mimic that so he/she can wear a cool cast as well. Again, I'm not saying your daughter IS faking, but maybe you could try wrapping it in an ace bandage and see what her response is.

My son had trouble walking a couple months ago - limping, bumping into walls suddenly. When I brought him to the pediatrician (he was walking better) she said it may have been a result of a virus that can irriate the joints. The babysitter's kids had flu/colds the week previous and my son didn't have any of their symptoms. Fortunately all turned out ok, but I'd check in with your Ped. just in case, especially if your daughter is still having difficulty walking.

I would not wait to take her to the ER. I would check this out with a specialist.
Did anyone enquire as to whether she has taken any medication or shots recently?
I hope that this resolves itself soon and with wellness.

I went thru a similar situation a couple of years back, I think my youngest was 3 at the time. My sister used to watch him when I was at work & she called me to say he wouldn't walk & she thought something was wrong. He had still been in bed when I left, but what I didn't know was that the reason he stayed in bed was because it hurt to move! :(
He could not stand on either leg, screamed in agony to get him in & out of the car seat. It was really painful to watch. Left work early, took him to the ped where the exam was EXTREMLY painful, but they had to rule out other issues. Sent us to the hospital for a stat X-ray to sonfirm no breaks, and to draw blood.
For the life of me, I cannot recall the name of the virus right now. It ended with "itis" (don't they all! LOL)
It's more common in boys than girls, but can affect either, and takes a few days to resolve. Ibuprophin (Childrens) helps. The virus he had basically is like having an arthritis attack in the hips. VERY painful.
But luckily, it does not last long!
I hope your little one is better soon!

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