My Suddenly Toe-Walking Toddler

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Disclaimer: I’m not a physician, and this blog is not meant to be construed as medical advice. If you are concerned about your child’s health, please take them to your pediatrician, the nearest urgent care or emergency room. 

It was a Friday night like any other…I was already in bed because being pregnant with a toddler is exhausting. My husband and our 2-year-old boy were playing in the living room, when I suddenly heard my husband exclaim, “Alden – what’s wrong!? Are you OK!?”

Of course, my mama bear instinct kicked in, and I was out of bed in a flash.

Our son was limping, staggering and falling down; he was suddenly unable to walk.

He’s never had issues walking before, so needless to say, we were quite alarmed.

My husband swore that nothing had happened – no falls, no toys stepped on, etc. So, I texted my mother-in-law, who had been watching him all day while we worked. Nothing to report there, either. 

Alden is very communicative, and he was able to tell us that his “leg hurt” and his “feet hurt.” But when I touched and rubbed his legs and feet, he had zero reaction. 

It was so puzzling!

I can’t tell you how many times I debated taking him to an urgent care or the ER, but what could they tell me? I was already communicating with all the nurses in my family, including my mother-in-law, and nobody seemed to think it was a major issue. Of course, we were all worried, but we decided to wait it out. If he had bruised or strained himself in some way, it would simply heal.

Alden walked on his tip toes all day Saturday morning, finally putting weight on one foot in the afternoon, and by Sunday, he was back to normal.

It wasn’t until our chiropractor visit the next week that I got an official diagnosis.

Toxic Synovitis.

It sounds terrifying, but it’s actually not. Toxic synovitis sometimes occurs in children after having a viral infection, like a cold. (He’d had a runny nose, low-grade fever and cough for a few days prior!) It’s a temporary inflammation of the hip and can cause sudden limping or toe-walking. It’s most common between ages 3 and 8 and more common in boys. Resting is important for recovery, and it can be treated with ibuprofen and acetaminophen. More on toe walking here.

My chiropractor’s son had it as a toddler and completely stopped walking altogether for a few days.

I’m glad to report we haven’t had any additional incidents, but I felt compelled to share with other families.

Have you experienced toxic synovitis with your children? Please share in the comments below!

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