Simply, limping refers to a case where a person walks with difficulty because of an abnormality in the foot or leg. It may be a result of muscular imbalance, pain, bone deformity or muscle weakness that interfere with a child's natural ability to walk and run. In some cases, however, limping is an indication of a severe medical condition referred to as limb length discrepancies. Here, your child's normal gait is affected by differences in the length of your legs. The following discussion sheds more light on limb length discrepancies to give you more insight:
What Causes Limb Length Discrepancies in Children?
The first cause of limb length discrepancies is an injury to any child's lower limb bones. This could be in the thigh, knee, leg or foot region. Particularly, the effect is more severe in cases where a child suffers from an open fracture where the bone breaks into several pieces and tears through muscles. Such broken bones may grow faster after healing and become longer than the bones of the other limb. Additionally, a fracture occurring through the growth plate of a bone in the child's leg slackens growth and makes that leg shorter.
What Diseases Are Associated With Limb Length Discrepancies?
Diseases affecting the bone structure and nervous system of the child can also cause limb length discrepancies. For instance, neurofibromatosis is a genetic condition affecting the nervous system. It causes tumours on nerves in any body part of the body, including the legs. A child born with this disorder is at a high risk of developing limb length discrepancies. Besides that, a condition like juvenile arthritis inflames the leg joints and leads to unproportional growth of the limbs.
What Are the Symptoms of Limb Length Discrepancies?
As a parent, you must look for signs of limb length discrepancies and have them addressed in good time. Look out for persistent limping, especially if your child has just recovered from a major leg injury. Moreover, other difficulties when walking may also be an indicator of limb length discrepancy. Your child might drag one foot or tire easily after walking because they use too much effort to compensate for the discrepancy in leg length.
What Should You Expect for Treatment?
Severe discrepancies in length measuring over one inch can be treated surgically to lengthen the affected leg, reduce the growth rate of the longer limb or shorten it. For minor discrepancies measuring less than an inch, the doctor might schedule your child for regular check-up and observation as he or she allows the body to balance out the discrepancy naturally. This is possible for children because they are still growing.
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