Intermittent Limp 1
A 5 year old boy presents to the Emergency department with a 5 day history of intermittent limp. His parents are concerned as he is crying when he walks. He has previously been happy to walk and had started to walk aged 15 months. He was otherwise well with no systemic complaints.
On examination he looked well, was afebrile but was limping. General examination was unremarkable, his abdomen was soft and non-tender and his testes appeared normal. He was reluctant to weight bear but hip movements appeared pain free and with normal range of movement. Other joints appeared normal.
Hip radiographs were reported as normal. Hip ultrasound showed no effusion. Blood tests (full [complete] blood count, acute phase reactants) were normal.
No apparent cause for his limp was found but he continued to have an intermittent limp. He was referred to paediatric rheumatology. The history was probed further and it was apparent that he had pain worse on weight bearing. Examination of his feet showed a large plantar wart on the sole of his foot - this was very tender.
The diagnosis was a plantar wart on his foot!
This case highlights the importance of careful clinical examination as the most crucial aspect of the evaluation; checking soles of the feet for easily missed problems and easily treatable benign problems is important. Plantar warts, ingrown toe nails, splinters / foreign bodies and even ill-fitting shoes are frequent causes of limp and should be considered before escalating investigations (and especially if they are invasive, involve radiation or require sedation).