Limping refers to any type of difficulty that occurs while walking. Limping can be considered to be a form of walking that favors the use of one leg over another and is most commonly due to diseases of or damage to the legs and feet, including all of the structures such as muscles, bones, joints, blood vessels, and nerves that make up the lower extremities.
Limping can result from either an acute (having a recent onset) or chronic (long-term) condition. Injuries such as bone fractures, sprains, and strains are common causes of limping. Arthritis and congenital malformations (birth defects) are other potential causes. Limping can also result from conditions that damage the central nervous system, such as cerebral palsy. Depending on the precise cause, limping may be treatable in some cases or its severity may be reduced through the use of medications and/or surgical interventions.
Other causes of limping
- Bone Tumors
- Legg-Perthes Disease
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Plantar Warts
- Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis
- Spinal Cord Tumor
- Spinal Stenosis
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Gout Attack Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Diet
Gout attacks (gouty arthritis) are caused by crystals of uric acid deposits. Learn about symptoms, causes, treatments and...
Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis
Psoriatic arthritis pain can be treated. Get more information on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and medications for psoriatic...
Rheumatoid Arthritis Quiz: What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
How is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid...
What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis
What is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about treatment, diagnosis, and the symptoms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover...
Causes of Limping
16 Early Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Signs & Symptoms
Early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA include the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, and the knees and hip joints. Joint inflammation causes stiffness. Warmth, redness, and pain may vary in degree.
Ankle Pain (Tendonitis)
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as: compressed, open, stress, greenstick, spiral, vertebral compression, compound, and comminuted. Symptoms of a broken bone include pain at the site of injury, swelling, and bruising around the area of injury. Treatment of a fracture depends on the type and location of the injury.
Cellulitis is an acute spreading bacterial infection below the surface of the skin characterized by redness, warmth, inflammation, and pain. The most common cause of cellulitis is the bacteria staph (Staphylococcus aureus).
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an abnormality of motor function and postural tone acquired at an early age (even before birth). Cerebral palsy is generally caused by brain trauma. Types of cerebral palsy include: spastic, dyskinetic (dystonic or choreoathetoid), hypotonic, and mixed types. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, and treatment is generally managing the symptoms of the condition.
Cuts, Scrapes, and Puncture Wounds
Learn about first aid for cuts, scrapes (abrasions), and puncture wounds, when to see a doctor, if tetanus shots are necessary, and how to spot signs of infection.
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Hamstring injuries may range from minor strains to major ruptures. A hamstring injury causes spasm, tightness, and tenderness. More severe injuries may cause swelling and bruising. While most hamstring injuries heal without surgery, a complete rupture would require surgery.
A herniated disc may be caused by injury or degeneration from age. Symptoms depend on the location of the herniation and whether nerve tissue is being irritated. An MRI or CT scan is performed to diagnose a herniated disc. Treatment may involve physical therapy, cortisone injection, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and surgery.
Arthritis, bursitis, IT band syndrome, fracture, and strain are just some of the causes of hip pain. Associated symptoms and signs include swelling, tenderness, difficulty sleeping on the hip, and loss of range of motion of the hip. Treatment depends upon the cause of the hip pain but may include anti-inflammatory medications and icing and resting the hip joint.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. Potential causes include injections around the bone, fractures that puncture the skin, recent surgeries, and bacterial infections that travel from other areas of the body, spreading through the blood to the bone. Symptoms include pain, fever, chills, stiffness, and nausea. Treatment involves antibiotics and pain medications. Surgery is sometimes necessary.
Paget's disease, also called Paget's disease of bone, is a chronic bone disorder due to irregular breakdown and formation of bone tissue. Paget's disease symptoms include bone pain, headaches and hearing loss, pressure on nerves, increased head size, hip pain, and damage to cartilage of joints.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet. Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
A pinched nerve causes pain, numbness, or tingling in the affected area due to pressure on a nerve. Carpal tunnel and sciatica are two examples of conditions caused by a pinched nerve. A pinched nerve is diagnosed by taking a patient history and performing a physical examination. Electromyography may be performed. Treatment for a pinched nerve depends on the underlying cause.
A polio infection causes symptoms and signs such as paralysis, limb deformities, and even death. There is no curative treatment for polio. Treatment focuses on pain control, bed rest, and physical therapy.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
There are many types of quadriceps injuries, including strains, contusions, Osgood-Schlatter disease, patellar tendinitis, quadriceps tendinitis, jumper's knee, tendinitis, compartment syndrome, rupture, and herniation. Symptoms and signs of a quadriceps injury including pain, swelling, limping, and decreased range of motion. Treatment of most quad injuries includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ibuprofen may help with pain relief.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Early RA signs and symptoms include anemia, both sides of the body affected (symmetric), depression, fatigue, fever, joint deformity, joint pain, joint redness, joint stiffness, joint swelling, joint tenderness, joint warmth, limping, loss of joint function, loss of joint range of motion, and polyarthritis.
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs of septic arthritis include fever, joint pain, chills, swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Treatment involves antibiotics and the drainage of the infected joint.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Vasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter