Childhood medical conditions that cause alimp

Some of the possible causes of your child's limp are described below. However, it's important not to diagnose the cause yourself always leave that to a doctor.

Irritable hip

Irritable hip (also known as transient synovitis) is a common childhood condition that causes hip pain and limping. Children with irritable hip may also be reluctant to place weight on the affected hip joint, making it difficult for them to stand or walk.

The condition occurs when the lining that covers the hip joint becomes inflamed, although the cause of inflammation is unclear.

A diagnosis of irritable hip is only made after other more serious causes of a limp are ruled out.

If your child has a fever and pain in many joints, as well as a limp,they're likely to have a viral infection.

However, make sure you see your GP for a proper diagnosis as they'll want to rule out more serious bone infections, such as:

  • septic arthritis a bacterial infection of a joint that severely restricts movement
  • osteomyelitis a bacterial infection of the bone

Juvenile arthritis

Arthritis is often associated with older people, but can sometimes affect children. This is known as juvenile arthritis.

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation (swelling) of the joints and bones. A child with juvenile arthritis will feel stiff, especially first thing in the morning, and won't be able to move their joints freely.

There's no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can slow down the condition and help to control the symptoms.

Find out more about juvenile arthritis .

Movement of the hip's growth plate (slipped upper femoral epiphysis)

Slipped upper femoral epiphysis (where the growing part of the bone in the hip joint moves)is more common inadolescents. This usually happens gradually over time, and tends toaffect older children, although it can suddenly happen as the result of an injury.

If your child has a slipped upper femoral epiphysis, they should avoid walking or rotating the leg. They'll need to have surgery as soon as possible, to realign the bone and fix it into position.

Othercauses of a limp

  • Perthes disease a problem in the top of the hip, causingthe bone to grow abnormally (read more about Perthes disease - PDF, 176Kb)
  • scoliosis abnormal curvature of the spine that can cause the child to lean to one side
  • developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) an abnormal or dislocatedhip that occurred before birth or developed soon after birth
  • severe pain in the lower abdomen this can becaused by appendicitis
  • unequal leg lengths which has awide variety of causes
  • adisease affecting the nerves such as cerebral palsy

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018