Medscape is available in 5 Language Editions – Choose your Edition here.


Pediatric Limp Medication

  • Author: Brian Wai Lin, MD; Chief Editor: Kirsten A Bechtel, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 07, 2014

Medication Summary

Pediatric patients with limping usually can be treated with nonnarcotic analgesic or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Some require glucocorticoids, muscle relaxants, or antibiotics. Opiate analgesia rarely is needed.



Class Summary

Pain control is essential to quality patient care and ensures patient comfort.

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)


NSAID DOC for patients with mild to moderate pain. Inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing prostaglandin synthesis.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)


DOC for pain in patients with documented hypersensitivity to aspirin or NSAIDs, with upper GI disease, or who are taking oral anticoagulants. Inhibits cyclooxygenase in the CNS.



Class Summary

These agents may act in the spinal cord to induce muscle relaxation.

Diazepam (Valium)


Depresses all levels of CNS (eg, limbic and reticular formation), possibly by increasing activity of GABA.



Class Summary

These agents are used as anti-inflammatories for inflamed muscle and soft tissues.

Prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone, Sterapred)


May decrease inflammation by reversing increased capillary permeability and suppressing PMN activity.



Class Summary

Empiric antimicrobial therapy must be comprehensive and should cover all likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)


Third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity; lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms; higher efficacy against resistant organisms. Arrests bacterial growth by binding to one or more penicillin-binding proteins.

Its long half-life allows for once-daily dosing.

Cefuroxime (Ceftin)


Second-generation cephalosporin maintains gram-positive activity that first-generation cephalosporins have; adds activity against Proteus mirabilis, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Moraxella catarrhalis.

Condition of patient, severity of infection, and susceptibility of microorganism determines proper dose and route of administration.

Nafcillin (Nafcil, Unipen)


Initial therapy for suspected penicillin G-resistant streptococcal or staphylococcal infections.

Use parenteral therapy initially in severe infections. Change to oral therapy as condition warrants.

Because of thrombophlebitis, particularly in children and elderly persons, administer parenterally only for short term (1-2 d); change to oral route as clinically indicated.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Brian Wai Lin, MD Staff Physician, Stanford/Kaiser Emergency Medicine Residency, Stanford University School of Medicine

Brian Wai Lin, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, Emergency Medicine Residents' Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Erik D Schraga, MD Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mills-Peninsula Emergency Medical Associates

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Kathryn J Stevens, MD, FRCR Associate Professor of Musculoskeletal Imaging, Department of Radiology, Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery (by courtesy), Stanford Medical Center

Kathryn J Stevens, MD, FRCR is a member of the following medical societies: International Skeletal Society, Radiological Society of North America, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, British Society of Skeletal Radiologists

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Grace M Young, MD Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland Medical Center

Grace M Young, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Kirsten A Bechtel, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine; Co-Director, Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital

Kirsten A Bechtel, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Garry Wilkes, MBBS, FACEM Director of Clinical Training (Simulation), Fiona Stanley Hospital; Clinical Associate Professor, University of Western Australia; Adjunct Associate Professor, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author, Martin I Herman, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

  1. Nelson WE, Behrman RE, Kliegman R, Arvin AM. Textbook of Pediatrics. 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 1996.

  2. Singer JI. The cause of gait disturbance in 425 pediatric patients. Pediatr Emerg Care. 1985 Mar. 1(1):7-10. [Medline].

  3. Fischer SU, Beattie TF. The limping child: epidemiology, assessment and outcome. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1999 Nov. 81(6):1029-34. [Medline].

  4. Mathison DJ, Troy A, Levy M. Fever and limp: thinking outside the box. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2012 Dec. 28(12):1369-73. [Medline].

  5. Kocher MS, Zurakowski D, Kasser JR. Differentiating between septic arthritis and transient synovitis of the hip in children: an evidence-based clinical prediction algorithm. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1999 Dec. 81(12):1662-70. [Medline].

  6. Kocher MS, Mandiga R, Zurakowski D, Barnewolt C, Kasser JR. Validation of a clinical prediction rule for the differentiation between septic arthritis and transient synovitis of the hip in children. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004 Aug. 86-A(8):1629-35. [Medline].

  7. Liberman B, Herman A, Schindler A, Sherr-Lurie N, Ganel A, Givon U. The Value of Hip Aspiration in Pediatric Transient Synovitis. J Pediatr Orthop. March/2013. 33:124-7. [Medline].

  8. Berezin S, Newman LJ, Wasserman E. Limp in a child associated with Yersinia enterocolitica infection. N Y State J Med. 1984 May. 84(5):230-1. [Medline].

  9. Reed L, Baskett A, Watkins N. Managing children with acute non-traumatic limp: the utility of clinical findings, laboratory inflammatory markers and X-rays. Emerg Med Australas. 2009 Apr. 21(2):136-42. [Medline].

  10. Nadel HR. Bone scan update. Semin Nucl Med. Sep 2007. 37:332-9. [Medline].

  11. Vieira RL, Levy JA. Bedside ultrasonography to identify hip effusions in pediatric patients. Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Mar. 55(3):284-9. [Medline].

  12. Shavit I, Eidelman M, Galbraith R. Sonography of the hip-joint by the emergency physician: its role in the evaluation of children presenting with acute limp. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2006 Aug. 22(8):570-3. [Medline].

  13. Tsung JW, Blaivas M. Emergency department diagnosis of pediatric hip effusion and guided arthrocentesis using point-of-care ultrasound. J Emerg Med. 2008 Nov. 35(4):393-9. [Medline].

  14. Carraccio CL, Lomonico MP, Fisher MC. Limp as a presenting sign of meningitis. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1990 Sep. 9(9):673-4. [Medline].

  15. Causey AL, Smith ER, Donaldson JJ, Kendig RJ, Fisher LC 3rd. Missed slipped capital femoral epiphysis: illustrative cases and a review. J Emerg Med. 1995 Mar-Apr. 13(2):175-89. [Medline].

  16. Dabney KW, Lipton G. Evaluation of limp in children. Curr Opin Pediatr. 1995 Feb. 7(1):88-94. [Medline].

  17. Gavalas M, Potts H, Galasko CS. Bone infection and the limping child in the accident & emergency department: a diagnosis to be considered. Arch Emerg Med. 1992 Sep. 9(3):323-5. [Medline].

  18. Herman MI. A limping 6 year old. Yamamoto L, et al, eds. Radiology Cases in Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 1997. Vol 4 Case 16:

  19. Lee RW, Demos TC. Limp and altered gait. Rosen P, Doris PE, Berkin RM, et al. Diagnostic Radiology in Emergency Medicine. 1992. 509-40.

  20. Leet AI, Skaggs DL. Evaluation of the acutely limping child. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Feb 15. 61(4):1011-8. [Medline].

  21. Leung AK, Lemay JF. The limping child. J Pediatr Health Care. 2004 Sep-Oct. 18(5):219-23. [Medline].

  22. Luhmann SJ, Jones A, Schootman M, Gordon JE, Schoenecker PL, Luhmann JD. Differentiation between septic arthritis and transient synovitis of the hip in children with clinical prediction algorithms. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2004 May. 86-A(5):956-62. [Medline].

  23. Mankin KP, Zimbler S. Gait and leg alignment: What's normal and what's not. Contemp Pediatr. 1997 Nov. 41-70.

  24. Markowitz C, Wynkoop W, Dvonch V. Limping toddlers. Orthopedics. 1986 Jul. 9(7):1021-3. [Medline].

  25. Myers MT, Thompson GH. Imaging the child with a limp. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1997 Jun. 44(3):637-58. [Medline].

  26. Phillips WA. The child with a limp. Orthop Clin North Am. 1987 Oct. 18(4):489-501. [Medline].

  27. Renshaw TS. The child who has a limp. Pediatr Rev. 1995 Dec. 16(12):458-65. [Medline].

  28. Scrutton DS, Robson P. The gait of 50 normal children. Physiotherapy. 1968 Oct. 54(10):363-8. [Medline].

  29. Singer J. Evaluation of acute and insidious gait disturbance in children less than five years of age. Adv Pediatr. 1979. 26:209-73. [Medline].

  30. Snook ME, LiPuma JJ. Pelvic muscle abscess. An unusual cause of gait disturbance in young children. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1993 May. 32(5):298-9. [Medline].

  31. Swischuk LE. Limp in young child. Pediatr Emerg Care. 1990 Mar. 6(1):65-6. [Medline].

  32. Tolo V, Wood B. The limping child. Pediatric Orthopedics Primary Care. Baltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins; 1993. 278-83.

  33. Tuten HR, Gabos PG, Kumar SJ, Harter GD. The limping child: a manifestation of acute leukemia. J Pediatr Orthop. 1998 Sep-Oct. 18(5):625-9. [Medline].

Toddler's fracture. Reproduced with permission from Radiology Cases in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Volume 4, Case 18, Melinda D. Santhany, MD. Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, University of Hawaii, John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Demonstration of Galeazzi test to evaluate for leg length discrepancy.
Demonstration of FABER test to evaluate for sacro-iliac joint pathology.
Demonstration of prone internal rotation. The maneuver increases intracapsular pressure in the hip and will not be tolerated by a patient with an inflammatory process.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Patient with a painful hip and limp for several months. Reproduced with permission from Loren Yamamoto, Radiology Cases in Pediatric Emergency Medicine.
Transient synovitis. Ultrasound image of the left hip shows a large joint effusion. The fluid was aspirated leading to complete resolution of symptoms. No organisms were grown, and the diagnosis was transient synovitis.
Ewing sarcoma. Anteroposterior radiograph of the femur in a 14-year-old male shows an ill-defined permeative lytic lesion of the proximal femur, with lamellated periosteal reaction (arrows). Coronal inversion recovery MRI image demonstrated a tumor within the proximal femur, with reactive bone marrow edema. Lamellated periosteal reaction is present (arrows), and edema is seen in the adjacent soft tissues. The tumor was biopsy-proven as Ewing sarcoma.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Anteroposterior radiograph of the hip shows ballooning of the femoral metaphysis and flattening of the femoral epiphysis, with erosion of the femoral head. On the sagittal T2-weighted image, a joint effusion with prominent nodular synovitis is observed (arrows). Erosions are seen in the acetabulum and femoral head (open arrows).
Knee radiographs in leukemia. Oblique radiographs of the knee show lucent metaphyseal bands, which are seen in 90% of patients with leukemia.
Osteochondroma. Anteroposterior and lateral radiographs of the left leg in a 10-year-old boy with hereditary multiple exostoses showing multiple osteochondromas (arrows).
Osgood-Schlatter disease. Lateral radiograph of the left knee showing fragmentation of the tibial tubercle with overlying soft tissue swelling, consistent with Osgood-Schlatter disease.
Osteoid osteoma. Anteroposterior film of the femur in a 10-year-old boy shows cortical thickening of the medial aspect of the distal femur (arrows). Coronal inversion recovery demonstrates a high signal intensity lesion in the medial cortex, with associated bone marrow edema, biopsy proven to be an osteoid osteoma.
Osteomyelitis. Anteroposterior radiograph of the pelvis in a 16-month-old boy shows erosion and lucency of the metaphysis in the right proximal femur (arrows). Coronal inversion recovery image show a joint effusion in the right hip. Extensive bone marrow edema is present in the femoral metaphysis, with edema in the surrounding soft tissues.
Osteosarcoma. Anteroposterior and lateral radiographs in a 9-year-old girl shows a destructive lesion of the distal femoral metaphysis medially, with aggressive sunburst periosteal reaction and a Codman's triangle on the lateral view (arrow). Coronal T1-weighted and axial T2-weighted images showing an expansile tumor of the distal femur with cortical destruction and extension into the soft tissues (arrows).
Slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Anteroposterior pelvis in an overweight13-year-old adolescent girl shows widening of the epiphyseal plate with irregular margins. Frog leg lateral views shows posteromedial displacement of the femoral head.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. Anteroposterior and frog leg lateral radiographs of the pelvis in a 8-year-old girl shows fragmentation and collapse of the left femoral capital epiphysis.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip. Anteroposterior radiograph of the pelvis in a 2-year-old child demonstrates a shallow acetabulum on the right, with lateral uncovering of the femoral head. The left hip appears unremarkable.
Table. Diagnostic Considerations for Limping, Organized by System and Patient Age
  System/Age Toddler (1-3 y) Child (4-10 y) Adolescent (11-16 y)
Infectious/Inflammatory Septic arthritis Septic arthritis Septic arthritis (consider Neisseria gonorrhoeae)  
Osteomyelitis Osteomyelitis    
Transient synovitis Transient synovitis    
Meningitis Diskitis    
Orthopedic/Mechanical Fractures (consider toddler's, nonaccidental trauma) Fractures Fractures (consider stress fractures, overuse syndromes)  
Osteochondroses Osteochondroses (consider Legg-Calve-Perthes) Osteochondroses (consider Osgood-Schlatter)  
Strains/sprains Strains/sprains Strains/sprains  
Foot/shoe foreign bodies Foot/shoe foreign bodies    
Leg length discrepancy   Slipped capital femoral epiphysis  
Developmental dysplasia of the hip   Chondromalacia patellae  
    Osteochondritis dissecans  
Neoplastic Neuroblastoma Osteosarcoma Osteosarcoma  
  Leukemia (ALL) Ewing's sarcoma Ewing's sarcoma  
  Osteochondroma Osteochondroma Osteochondroma  
    Osteoid osteoma Osteoid osteoma  
Neuromuscular Hereditary motor sensory neuropathies (includes Charcot-Marie-Tooth)  
Peripheral neuropathy  
Muscular dystrophy  
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy  
Rheumatologic Juvenile idiopathic arthritis Juvenile idiopathic arthritis    
Henoch-Schonlein purpura Henoch-Schonlein purpura    
Gout/pseudogout Gout/pseudogout Gout/pseudogout  
Serum sickness & serum sickness-like reactions Rheumatic fever Rheumatic fever  
Hematologic Sickle cell disease (vaso-occlusive crisis)  
Hemophilia (hemarthrosis)  
Intra-abdominal Appendicitis Appendicitis Appendicitis  
Psoas abscess Psoas abscess Psoas abscess  
    Testicular torsion  
All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2016 by WebMD LLC. This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.