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- 19th May 2017

Difficulty to walk normally due to pain or damage while walking is called as limping. It’s a form of walking that favors one leg over another leg is while walking.

Causes of Limping

Limping is an outcome of many underlying causes and diseases. These diseases might affect the leg, foot, muscles, bones, joints, and nerves in the extreme regions.

The problems and diseases that cause limping are

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Congenital malformations (birth defects)
  • Cerebral palsy (neurological problem)
  • Bone injuries
  • Fractures
  • Sprains & strains
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Transient synovitis (inflammation of the hip joint)
  • Heel pain
  • Leukemia
  • Hypotonia (poor muscle tone)
  • Hip pain and hip disorders
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (piece of bone breaking off)
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Neoplasia
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Physeal fracture
  • Discitis
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (hip disorder in teens and adolescents)
  • Tumors
  • Gait problems
  • Heart problems
  • Congenital hip dislocation
  • Different leg lengths
  • Spondylitis
  • Appendicitis
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of tendons)
  • Shin splints
  • Psychological disorders
  • Pain or weakness in joints

Associated symptoms

The symptoms seen in general along with limping are:

  • Irregular walking
  • Hobbling
  • Pain or discomfort while walking
  • Avoiding pressure while walking
  • Fever
  • Rashes
  • Pale complexion


The diagnosis of limping is related mainly on the cause of limping. The diagnostic procedure for limping includes the following:

  • Initially inspecting the gait condition
  • Physical examination of legs for bruises, swelling, discoloration, ulcers, and rashes
  • Joints examination for motion limitation
  • Leg length measurement
  • Blood tests like CBC test and ESR
  • Urine analysis for presence of uric acid and any infections
  • Radiological examinations such as X-Ray of leg, leg joints, hip, lumbosacral spine etc
  • MRI scan of hip, lumbosacral spine, knee
  • Ultrasound of hip
  • CT scan of brain
  • Bone scan
  • Bone marrow biopsy, bone tumor biopsy diagnostic tests for neoplasm

Treatment for Limping

The treatment option for the limping problem is based on its cause. Usually, the following methods are applicable for treating limping.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treating inflammation
  • Crutches are used for support while walking
  • Anti viral drugs for treating infections
  • Surgical procedure is required for most of the underlying problems
  • Treatment of the underlying disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, malignant fibrous histiocytoma, ruptured achilles tendon etc is highly important
  • Medications such as glucocorticoids, antibiotics help in treating underlying diseases related limping.
  • Regular exercises
  • Physiotherapy

Self management

The following steps can help reduce the inflammation and reduce the pain of limping. These include

  • Healthy diet rich in fiber, vegetables, omega 3 fatty acids etc
  • Usage of crutches to avoid applying stress on the limp region
  • Reduction of body weight

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