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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So What Happened?™

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.

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