Kid Limping After Leg Cast Removal

Updated on April 04, 2013
P.G. asks from Alameda, CA
13 answers

Hi ,

Doctor told since he is still 3 years old, no need of Physical Therapy, he would stop limping after few days. My major concern, can I allow him to jump,run as earlier. Since he goes to pre - school, he gets tempted to do everything his friends do there

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So What Happened?

Ortho doctor we take him also as an PT with him every check up I go. He suggested no PT. I was wandering is it good to take a scond doctor opinion

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answers from Shreveport on

My son was in a cast for about 6 weeks when he was a toddler. He had a limp and walked on tiptoe on that leg for a long time. Even now 8 yrs I will catch him tip toe walking on that side and limping every now and then.
Right now it basically is just a habit for him. You can try the massage and swimming but what helped my son the most was pointing it out to him. Then reminded him that he was fine and he could walk normally.

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answers from Redding on

I am the queen of broken bones and casts although I am not proud of that distinction at all.
When you're in a cast, your muscles can begin to atrophy and the extent depends on how long the limb has been immobilized.
Even without formal physical therapy it seems they would have given you strengthening exercises to get his muscles built back up. These can be as simple as toe pointing and flexing his toes pointing back towards him. Squat excercises are good as well. Standing on tip toe and down and repeating that.....
Those are things you can do at home and he should take it a little easy for a week or so at least so he doesn't pull a muscle or reinjure himself.
It's hard to keep little ones down. Thankfully they heal much faster than when we get older.

My guess is that if his leg still hurts him, he won't run and jump more than he can stand, but I would alert the preschool not to allow him to jump off of equipment or run around like a maniac for a bit just to make sure all is well.
My friends kid sprained his ankle and to be safe they put a cast on it thinking that would slow him down. It didn't. And when they took it off he ran around like nothing was ever injured and there were no complications.
I would say if he complains of pain or leg cramps, that's when you know for sure he's playing too hard. My friends kid couldn't wait to get his cast off and never even limped after so it all depends on the severity of the original injury and how long the cast was on.

Best wishes.

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answers from Honolulu on

After a cast is removed, the leg muscles have to get used to being out of a cast. When in a cast, the leg is immobile and not used... the leg may even appear shrunken or 'smaller' than the other leg.
Sometimes physical therapy is used, to help that leg get mobile again...

Check with your Doc, about how long... it will take for the leg to attain 'normal' mobility again.
But don't force the movements... your Doc should have given you guidelines on that and how to reintroduce normal activity.

all the best,

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answers from Dallas on

My four year old daughter broke her foot and we were told the same thing. The limping lasting for about 6 weeks after it came off. I noticed that she limped more whe she was tired and first thing in the morning. We went back at 3 weeks because I was worried and they gave her a walking cast to use when the limping got bad. That seemed to help the transition. Also, we were told no therapy at this age. But we did have to stay away fro sports etc until she was fully cleared at 6 weeks. Preschool was tough but I asked the teachers to be really careful with her. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

My 4yo daughter broke her leg (spiral fracture of tibia) in March. She had a full leg cast for 4 weeks then a short cast (below the knee) for 3 more. She was still limping 4 weeks after the cast was removed, so we went back to the ortho for a check up. He tested the range-of-motion for her ankle and knee and watched her walk. He said she was fine, but was still in the habit of protecting her leg when she walked or ran. It was just something she would have to work through on her own time. Her leg was also much smaller- she had lost a lot of her muscle tone in that leg. He said taking her to PT would be an excercise in frustration for all of us since she is so young. As long as everything has healed correctly, you just have to be patient. It takes a while before he will regain all the strength in that leg and the confidence that he will be fine. My daughter still comments every once in a while that she is worried about breaking her leg again, and she had the cast removed 2 months ago. It took a while for her to get over the fear of her leg getting hurt again, so she was reluctant to walk or run normally. The emotional scars are bigger than the physical ones sometimes.


answers from Lexington on

If the doctor isn't concerned about him running or jumping then he must think he is healed enough or the cast or a brace would still be on, I would let your son go, kids won't do what hurts. As for no PT I would agree as I am an LMT so I would use a MassageTherapist instead, PT can sometimes cause more harm than good. Massage will increase the blood flow and speed recovery of his muscles as well as help with any aches or pains and he will most likely love it, you could even do it yourself with a little help from a baby massage book or DVD. Just start out with light pressure. A Licensed Massage Therapist trained for either sports injuries or for children would be your best bet in my opinion. Good luck!



answers from San Francisco on

Hello P., Trust me as the mother of 5 and with 2 boys that spent a lot of time in theER becasueof jumping out of trees, tripping over thier own feet, skate boards, surfing and bike riding as well as motorcycles-- see I have some experiance-- it takes a few days but they come back fast.
My first child I babied and it took him longer t try things again and to not milk it for attention but after awhile he just got up and went on to new adventures. Lucky for me the others were not as adventurous and were much more cautious. So don't be to alarmed. You have the doctors feelings on it and you can keep taking him to different doctors until you hear what you want to but by then he should be out and about playing again. Get him a swimming pool and do the pt yourself by letting him move his body in the water -- he will have fun and you won't be as nervous.



answers from Fresno on

My daughter did the same thing at that age. It's more about them not feeling secure to use the leg fully without the comfort of the cast. If your son is like my daughter, he'll use it fully when he's ready. Took my daughter 1-2 weeks before she wouldn't limp anymore.



answers from Boston on

Sounds like he needs some Physical Therapy. The same thing happened to my son, a week after his cast was off I took him back because his foot was pointed out and he had to spend a few months in PT before he was walking straight.



answers from San Francisco on

I was an orthopedic surgeon (and now I'm a mom). I will tell you that kids won't do what hurts, so if he can run and jump as before, just let him. Kids find it strange after a cast removal. Suddenly their leg feels much lighter. But after a few days, it will feel normal again, and he will walk normally. In terms of PT, kids who are active don't usually need PT. However, I would never discourage a second opinion, especially if your son is still limping after a couple of weeks. Good luck!



answers from New York on

My two year old just had a toddler fracture to her leg. She was in a cast for four weeks. My doctor said that it will take two to three weeks before they will walk on it well, and if after a month she isnt back to normal then she may need some PT. She told me no playground or rough activities since she is unstable and we dont want her to get hurt again. Pool is the best activity ( not easy since its 50 degrees out). My daughter is limping and at times gets very nervous and holds on for support and its been a week since the cast is off. I would be careful



answers from Wichita on

Call his dr. & ask if your son has any restrictions (running, jumping, ect.) If not then you want you can do your own PT. Do 'excersices' with him: squating, jumping jacks, touching toes (head, shoulders, knees & toes song), anything that allows him stretch his leg.
I'm not a PT, but my oldest son had PT when he came home from the hospital at 2.5 mo. (he was 12 weeks early) & after having hip surgery & was in a cast for 10 weeks & a harness for about another 2 months. He is now 8.5 y/o & keeps up with the rest of the kids in school.

God bless!



answers from New York on

Did they have him go to any type of physical therapy afterwards? That usually helps a whole lot.