Limp

Advice for professionals

Click here to view the limp paediatric pathway. 

When should you worry?

If your child has any of the following:

  • Is pale, mottled and feels abnormally cold to touch
  • Is going blue around the lips
  • Becomes extremely agitated, confused or very lethargic (difficult to wake)
  • Has a fit / seizure
  • Develops a rash that does not disappear with pressure (see the ‘Glass Test’)
  • If you think that your child has broken a bone

You need urgent help

Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999

If your child has any of the following:

  • Is unable to put any weight on their leg
  • Is no better after 48 hours
  • Develops a fever above 38.5°C

You need to contact a doctor or nurse today

Please ring your GP surgery or contact NHS 111 - dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

If your child:

  • Continues to have pain/limp that is slowly improving but he/she is otherwise well

Self care

Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, contact NHS 111 – dial 111 or for children aged 5 years and above visit 111.nhs.uk

This guidance has been reviewed and adapted by healthcare professionals across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw with consent from the Hampshire development groups.

  • Give your child ibuprofen for a few days. You can also give paracetamol to help with the pain
  • Your child should rest as much as possible until the symptoms have resolved. You can then allow your child to gradually return to their usual activities

  • If your child starts limping, it's usually the sign of a minor injury such as a sprain. However, if they haven't had any obvious injury, they may need to be seen by a healthcare professional to look for other possible causes
  • Irritable hip (also known as Transient Synovitis) is a common childhood condition that causes symptoms of hip pain and limping
  • However, irritable hip shares some of the symptoms of more serious hip conditions, such as septic arthritis (an infection inside the hip)

  • If your child develops a temperature above 38.5°C, their pain is no better after 48 hours or they are unable to put any weight on their leg, they need to be seen urgently by your GP

  • Your child should start getting better within a couple of days
  • If they are not better within 48 hours, or not back to normal within 7 days, you should arrange for them to be seen by your GP

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