Any Mom Have 3.5 Yr Old Child Limping, Swollen Knee, but No Pain or Known Cause?

Updated on July 12, 2017
A.W. asks from Fair Haven, VT
9 answers

My 3.5 yr old son has been limping on left leg for 3 months now. In the beginning we thought shoes were the problem. But after two new different style pairs not helping, we pursued his pediatrician for answers. It was then the doctor and myself noticed during his examination that his left knee was swollen. So bloodwork was done to check for lyme. Results were negative. Then hip xrays. Results Normal. Now we had more bloodwork to find any changes in CBC. CBC normal. But sed rate (inflamation indicator) was elevated. So now we are getting knees xrayed. We also noticed his knee cannot straighten like normal. With comparing both knees, his right knee can straighten completely to touching exam table. Left knee does not. When my son stands, he has to have his left leg bent, while his right leg is straight. We are baffled! My son can run, walk, crawl...he doesn't complain of pain, but definitely his gait is abnormal. He wakes up limping in the morning. He gets off couch limping. He limps before and after activity/play. It is constant, and swelling in knee is constant.
Any mom out there have insight into what this could be?

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So What Happened?

So after getting knees xrayed, they too showed nothing abnormal. I requested that his pediatrician refer him to pediatric orthopedic and rheumatologist. But they want to do bloodwork for a third time. Just so frustrated at not knowing what is causing this. I will add that my son has had 5 nose bleeds at night in the past two months. May or may not be important but will be mentioning it to his pediatrician. And he wakes up sometimes moaning and wining in the night, possibly due to pain in left knee/leg?...will keep you all posted.

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answers from Indianapolis on

My thoughts are to take him to an ortho doc. There is a reason his knee is swollen and the Pediatrician may not know the answer. My thoughts are some form or arthritis with the limping in the morning. It sounds like a stiff knee. I hope you find a solution soon. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

At this point, with a marked difference in appearance and joint function, I'd be setting up a consult with an orthopedist and a rheumatologist, perhaps in a children's hospital. This has gone on long enough, and with a growing child, you really don't want things to develop abnormally because you didn't take early action. If the pediatrician is too lackadaisical about this, I'd move on to something much more investigative. Make some noise, Mama - and get referrals from the doctor or on your own.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I have to admit that I would be trying to get him seen by a rheumatologist. And I wouldn't wait. Please try to set up an appointment. Is there a children's hospital in your area? I'd start there...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

I am sure there are many things that can cause a sore joint, so my story may not apply but my son started limping when he was 2.5, and then stopped walking all together. After testing and time it was determined he has an autoimmune disorder called JRA (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) which causes his immune system to sometimes attack his joints for no real reason. My son has suffered joint pain on and off for years but as the doctors suggested he has begun to outgrow it now that he is hitting puberty. But this is just one possibility out of many that could cause joint pain in a child. The important thing is that it has never held him back, like most forms or arthritis staying active is the best way to reduce pain and he plays soccer, basketball, everything other kids his age do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Why hasn't your pediatrician suggested you take your child to an orthopedic doc? Pediatricians are good at kid's stuff but when there is something going on with a particular thing that "has" a specialist why not refer you?

I would call today and get that referral. If you don't already have an orthopedic doc for your family then call your insurance provider or go on their web site and make a list of orthopedic docs listed. If they have pediatric orthopedic docs that's even better. Call that office and make sure they haven't cancelled their contract with your insurance, save yourself some time, then ask them how soon your child can get an appointment with a referral dated today.

If they can get him in quickly that would be awesome! If not then hopefully there are more on your insurance list that you can call.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!

Take your son to a Orthopedic doctor and an endocrinologist to ensure he doesn't have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and is just so used to the "pain" he doesn't register it any more.

I'm really sorry he's going through this. It sucks. Especially when you don't have answers!! I hope an orthopedist is able to help you!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

An Xray probably won't be enough. I'd definitely request a referral to a pediatric rheumatologist, who will likely schedule an MRI. Xrays show bones, but MRIs show tissue and other parts of the joints. Make sure to bring all the previous blood tests and scans to the rheumatology appointment. My daughter has lupus and other autoimmune diseases, and one thing her rheumatologist checks for is fluid in her joints. The sed rate can be a significant finding for a specialist.

Don't worry needlessly, but be persistent in getting a specialist to see your son. Limping and keeping one knee slightly bent could eventually affect other muscles and lead to pain and further problems.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I hate to say this, because I don't want to cause any alarm, but it sounds like my husband's knees. Mind you - he has some pain at times. He has a certain kind of arthritis - he sees an orthopaedic surgeon (has had some minor surgery on both), and he goes back for ultrasound soon. It was when you said that he can't really straighten it that made me think of my husband.

Hopefully it's an inflammation they can figure out and treat him for. My sister had one knee that was inflamed all through her teens. She went on some medication and had to stop a job where she stood for long periods of time. She also had to reduce her physical activity when it was bad. Hers went away once she was an adult. I'll ask her what it was and update.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I would take him to a specialist. One thing the specialist needs to check for is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. My nephew has it and he was limping a lot at age 3 but not complaining of pain. It turns out a little pain was so normal for him. He didn't get diagnosed until he was about age 6/7 and he is doing great now. His mom has to keep on top of it though...sometimes he is managing it well and is in remission and sometimes he has a setback and needs shots/medicine again. Good luck. Definitely go to a specialist. I'd make appointments with an orthopedist and with a rheumatologist. As them who else you can consult about this.

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