4 Year Old Limping - No Injury

Updated on August 15, 2012
T.S. asks from South Weymouth, MA
11 answers

Hi Moms,
My 4 year old boy has been limping for over 2 weeks now. He has not complained of any pain. We took him to the GP who said she can see nothing wrong and referred us to an orthopedic doctor. Has anyone experienced something similar? Thanks!

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So What Happened?

We just spent a week at Children's Hospital because in the midst of a fever of 104 he started to complain that his leg hurt (this is about 1 month after the limp started). It turns out to be either osteomyelitis, a bacterial infection of the bone, or CRMO, a longer term inflammation that is not due to infection. If a month of antibiotics don't clear things up, it is CRMO.

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answers from St. Louis on

It sounds like growing pains. I know you said he isn't complaining about pain but it doesn't exactly manifest itself as pain. I was so active as a child it was plenty painful in the evening but it always started off as stiffness.

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answers from Richmond on

Is he being silly? I know 2 weeks is a long time to be silly, but I remember my eldest daughter doing that, she almost walked with a gallop. She had just figured out she could do it, and do it well, so she insisted on walking everywhere like that. What is he wears shoes? That kind of forces them to walk flat footed, one foot in front of the other. I'd keep an eye on it, and if it persists, get a second opinion.

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answers from Washington DC on

ooh my...i would LIKE to say "growing pains" as there are times when the bones grow faster than the muscles and it hurts...but he's not complaining of pain...

I would love to hear what the orthopedist says - is it just one leg/foot or both? Like a splinter you can't see? I wonder if he bruised his foot - like my girl friend's son did in soccer - no visible signs of distress - no bruising, etc. but for about 3 weeks he limped and the foot HURT him...the ortho said (at 2 weeks) that he bruised the bone and muscle and it while there is no permanent damage - it hurts and is healing...

Hopefully - it's just like that - he was playing, hit something hard where there were no outside visible trauma and it's healing..

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answers from Los Angeles on

The first thing I thought was a hidden splinter too, or something embedded in his foot. I'm sure you've monkeyed the heck out of him to figure it out :) Pressing on the bottom of his foot pad/heel? If he didn't have it before, sounds like a little hitch in his get-along that will hopefully pass sooner than later!

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answers from Cleveland on

My daughter work up one day saying "bobo" and pointing to her knee... later I noticed that one knee was just a little bigger then the other, but their was really no other signs of anything. I did take her to the doc, who sent us to the hospital for x-rays... they found her knee was swallen, but for no real reason. We ended up visiting 2 more doctors before meeting Dr Toth (Rheumatologist). She sent my daughter for blood work and signs of inflammation was found in her blood. This all happened about 4 1/2 years ago - she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).

We did kinda question before that point if something was wrong, but it was just us asking questions like "why does her brother (15 mo younger) .... when she can't" and usually we were told kids develope different - don't compare them. After she was diagnosed we were told she didn't develope correctly because it hurt to much to do the things we were questioning her not doing. But she never told us it hurt, cause it was all she knew... she had always been in pain, so her mind looked at the pain a normal which now makes her have a higher pain tolerance. Which can suck sometimes... she doesn't know she has an ear infection till they are about to rupture and we have a hard time getting her to tell us when things hurt even now at 7 yrs old.

If he is limping keep after the doctors... make sure you get a reason. Something isn't "right" - make sure you know what it is so that you can help the fix it.

Good luck!

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answers from San Antonio on

Has he had an xray? Because my daughter had a hairline fracture. Her leg looked fine, no bruising or redness or swelling...but it was fractured.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My then 2 3/4 yo started limping but within a few days was unable to walk at all. (She did have pain) Turned out she had Lymes Disease. She was on antibiotic for 28 days and has been fine ever since. She is now 13yo.

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answers from Boston on

Well here's possibly a worst-case scenario, and it's not that bad. One of my brothers had a mystery limp when he was 5. My parents dismissed it because my older sister had hip checked him into a door so they thought it was an injury but it lingered. He was diagnosed with some kind of genetic hip deformity - one of his hips was not as well formed as the other and one was starting to get higher than the other, hence the limp.

His treatment included being in the hospital in traction with weights on his legs for a few weeks, then being casted and wearing a brace that kept his legs splayed, knees apart, for 5 years. He got out of his braces in 6th grade and other than some arthritis, has been fine since but expects to have some stiffness and pain as he ages and may need surgery.

The braces were an alternative to surgery - I think that looking back, my parents would have opted for surgery instead of years of braces.

Hopefully it's nothing, but an ortho consult will tell your for sure. Good luck!

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answers from Boston on

We noticed my daughter limping last winter (she's almost 4 now) and she told us she bumped it at school. She said her knee hurt. She continued to limp through the weekend and we took her to the doctor. She smiled through her limping but stuck to her story and truly and consistently limped. Our doctor found nothing to be wrong. She mentioned a potential virus in the joint but if there was one it was the kind of thing that would go away on its own. She continued to limp for a couple weeks until she just stopped. It was a mystery but she did not seem to be in pain and once cleared by the doctor we monitored it to see if it got worse but it did not.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Get it checked right away!!! My 9yr old started limping, with no pain for almost a week. She started telling me her leg was sore so I took her to urgent care and had x-rays done. She had a slipped capital epiphysis ( the growth plate dislocated from the femur ). I took her to an orthopedic surgeon and he did surgery the next day. He explained that this is a rare thing to happen in children, however very serious. The top of her femur may still die due to blood loss from the detached growth plate then we consider a fake hip. And because this happened in one side, its very likely it will happen in the other as well. She will have surgery in the future to realign her hip and leg bone. So get him in, i pray that its nothing, but if not, you will feel horrible for putting him off, I sure do!!



answers from Burlington on

It could be an internal problem.

FYI - there is no such thing as "growing pains." Pain is caused by something, but not growing, unless something is not growing at the same rate, such as bones are growing faster than muscles so that the muscles are stretched.

Good luck