My Daughterwoke up Is Now Limping and Can't Straighten Her Leg.. Any Suggestions

Updated on February 25, 2012
T.K. asks from Brooklyn, NY
13 answers

So my 3 year old daughter woke up 2 days ago and cried telling me that her leg was hurting. I put her on the floor and she went to take a step and fell. She could not walk on her left leg. I checked her leg out and I could not straighten her leg it seemed like it was restricted at the knee. I took her to the doctor and they did an xray and it came back normal. Next day she started walking on the leg a little bit but you can notice that shes limping and its bent as she walks. I took her to the doctor again and they told me to continue to give her motrin and come back on Monday. She did not fall or injury herself at all. Anyone's kids have this problem cause the damn doctors don't seem to know what is going on and its very fustrating playing the waiting game and seeing her in pain and them not telling me anything.

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So What Happened?

I took her to the er and they did full leg xrays they said nothing is showing up and they want us to go see an orthropedic doctor asap and of course they are not open till Monday. They said its possible she might have a hair thin fracture that a specialist would have to diagnoise and order an MRI.

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answers from New York on

Same thing happened to my nephew at around 2 1/2. He got better. Docs
said probably a virus. Viruses can do weird things to the body. Hope he feels better soon.

Edit My Answer
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answers from Norfolk on

My 3 yr old did the same thing in December. He had no trauma but woke up limping. By early afternoon he would hardly walk. At the doctor he would point to his knee and shin and say that was where it hurt. But after a full leg exam, he didn't flinch or have any real pain down there. Fortunately we have a fantastic doctor and she took the exam all the way up to his hip. Turns out he had fluid on his hip, which is called toxic synovitis. Just to be certain, she did full upper & lower leg x-rays and then an ultrasound of the hip (which is the only way to confirm fluid). It was just a viral infection and was treated with motrin. It was better after 24 hours, but not before it got much worse to where he would hardly move at all. And yes, we had to go to the hospital for observation.

However, fluid on the hip can also be a bacterial infection which needs to be treated immediately. I am by no means medically qualified to tell you that your daughter has fluid on her hip (either viral or bacterial). But if you lay her down and move her leg at the hip, (think butterfly of her leg in and out) if she has pain this may be it. And it certainly wouldn't hurt to mention the idea to the doc. We all know how much they love self-diagnosis!

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answers from Appleton on

You have a lot of great advice but as Mom's sometimes we are just shooting in the dark. So here is my suggestion.

She could be dehydrated, low on potassium, or calcium. Try to get her to drink some milk, eat bananas or oranges and make sure she gets enough water. A hot bath might make it feel better. You could also try an ice pack.

She could also have growing pains. Then try heat.

Oh so frustrating -- your child is in pain and the doctor takes a wait and see attitude.

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answers from Kansas City on

I have a friend whose 2 1/2 year old son just went through this! It ended up that he had some sort of virus and it took a few days to get over. I can't remember specifically, but I also think he may have had some sort of cyst caused by the virus that had to be drained. It's late to call her tonight, but I'd be happy to call her in the am to find out exactly what happened. PM me if you'd like me to check it out. Sorry you're going through this. I remember her being frustrated as well and taking two visits to the ER from him screaming in pain. He did get over it though if that's any relief for you. Hang in there!

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answers from Jacksonville on

If it doesn't hurt when she isn't trying to stand on it, then it is likely the virus the previous poster is referring to. Our son went thru something similar years ago. Never did get an actual diagnosis. But he is fine. Another friend of mine just went thru this a few weeks ago. Her son is fine also.

Google: Toxic Synovitis and see if that seems to fit her symptoms.

Edited after your SWH: In the end, you might be glad that the ortho isn't open until Monday. If it is a mild case of toxic synovitis it may be resolved by then. When our son went thru something similar, we took him into the ER on day 2. They drew blood and ran lots of tests on it, did manipulation to see what worked/didn't and what hurt/didn't, but didn't do any xrays because he had not fallen or otherwise injured himself. They could find NOTHING on the bloodwork, except for some some slightly elevated white count (he had a cold a day or two before this started, but was over it) and his electrolyte balance was outside the normal range for an adult (they didn't have an equivalent range for a child his age--6 at the time). I thought that was a little odd (that they didn't know what it should be for him). At any rate, they couldn't find anything wrong. We sat in a treatment room there for probably 4 hours while they gave him a dose of advil and did the bloodwork. While waiting, he ate a couple of crackers and had a craving for something to drink--so I hit the vending machines and came up with a powerade. He drank about a third of it and by the time the doctors came back, he was absolutely fine. No more pain, and he walked out of there. Never another problem. Told us to follow up with our doctor at home (we were out of town when this happened with him). It was all very strange. I am convinced at this point, that he had toxic synovitis, as all the symptoms fit, and it seems to be routinely overlooked by doctors. :/ It was very scary. But looking back, if his had not resolved like it did, we would have had the MRI.

Even though toxic synovitis affects the hip, the pain isn't necessarily felt in the hip. Keep that in mind. They could find nothing wrong with our son with manipulating his legs or joints. Only when he tried to stand did it hurt. And he couldn't walk because of the pain. Otherwise, he was fine.

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answers from Cleveland on

When they did an x-ray did they check for extra fluid in the knee as well... My daughter was about 2 or 3 when she woke-up saying her leg hurt... we watched it, but her knee did swell up some, not much at first. We saw 4 different doctors till she was giving blood test that showed inflamation & she was later found to have arthritis. Keep after the doctors & if you need to go to the ER sometimes you get more results that way & quicker service then going to a doctors office over & over & over again. Good luck & I hope she feels better soon!

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answers from San Diego on

It sounds like what I have sometimes. I can't say why. I call it "putting my knee out". I don't fall either. It is like a pulled muscle. But it's right inside the knee that hurts. When I have that, I can't lay flat with my leg all the way straight either. It passes. They keep telling you to wait because they know it should pass.

It just so happens that I put my knee out yesterday and have no idea why. I'm glad it's the weekend. I'm going to be reading scripture all weekend. Any aches and pains or sicknesses I've had in the last year passes by very quickly when I stay in the scripture. I hear from those with small children that know how to believe for healing that you have to do the scripture reading, praying, and believing for your young children since they are too young to do it for themselves :)


answers from Los Angeles on

So sorry your daughter is in pain :(

Follow up and take her to the ER if you have to. Make sure they do a CBC (Complete Blood Count), etc. to rule everything out before they tell you they don't know what's wrong. Sometimes by doing additional tests they will find something they hadn't considered, or at the very least rule things out.

Praying she feels better soon.


answers from New York on

Could be any number of things including Lyme disease from a tic bite?



answers from Dallas on

Could it be a Charlie Horse? I know I have gotten them during the night before and I could not walk on my leg or straighten it. And it has been sore for a day or two if it was a bad one. At 3 years old, she may not be able to explain to you exactly what is wrong. I have known of many children who got Charlie Horses at that age. My husband used to get them all the time when he was a child (and he still gets them). I hope she feels better soon.


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!

have her checked for Lyme disease. She could've have been bitten by tick and you might not have seen it.

Did they xray her leg?
does he have fluid on her knee? My daughter had this at 4. Woke up and was in pain - very rare for her - so we took her to the doctor. They did an xray and found some fluid on her knee. Instead of draining it - very traumatic for a 4 year old - we had to do some PT for her. She was fine in a few days.

PUSH the doctors. You are her advocate.



answers from Cleveland on

Does massage help her to loosen up?? I can never remember if it's heat or ice.
At first i thought that maybe she just had pins and needles, but if it's continued it doesn't sound like that.

Not to scare you but to just make you more aware of what to ask the dr, I knew a child that was diagnosed with Cancer because of something very similar, he was limping. I'm sorry i can't say if there were other symptoms or how they determined the diagnosis. He would have been 4 or 5 at the time. Although if your daughter had been fine the day before that might be evidence against something like cancer.

woudl you consider a massage therapist or a chiropractor?

Good luck and please let us know how she is doing.


answers from Norfolk on

Growing pains, muscle cramps and things like that can be very painful but they usually resolve themselves fairly quickly and do not go on continuously for days.
I did hear once about a rare bone virus where an elementary school kid lost the ability to walk for 6 months before it totally cleared up and he was fine as if nothing had ever been wrong.
He literally went from being in a wheel chair to walking then running within a few days once it cleared up.
There was nothing the doctors could do, they just had to wait it out and let it run it's course.
Maybe you could rub her leg, put some Aspercream on it and soak in a warm bath every so often and see if it helps her.
I hope she get's better soon.

Next question: Seeking Moms That Have Had Kids Start Limping Without an Apparant Injury