If your child walks with their feet turned inward instead of pointing straight ahead, they may have intoeing, also known as a pigeon toe, a common condition among children. Usually, this condition can resolve on its own over time; however, there are options that a podiatrist can recommend to correct it.
How to Spot Pigeon Toe
The most obvious and common sign of pigeon toe is an abnormal gait. The child may walk or run with the front of their feet and toes pointing inward instead of forward.
Other Signs of Intoeing
- Feet that have a crescent shape
- Shinbone rotating inward
- Child sits in a “W” position with the knees going inward
- Child trips or limps when walking
- Pain or swelling
- Unusual clumsiness
There are three conditions that may cause a child to have pigeon toe:
- Metatarsus adductus. This is a common foot deformity in infants where the foot has a curved shape that causes it to turn inward. It can sometimes be resolved by stretching the foot and does not normally continue throughout childhood.
- Femoral anteversion. This condition presents when the thigh bone twists inward. It generally resolves by the time the child turns eight.
- Tibial torsion. This condition presents when the lower leg or tibia turns inward or outward. It can be seen when a child begins to walk and often resolves by the time the child turns 10.
Intoeing can run in families or develop during pregnancy due to the baby’s position in the mother’s uterus. There is no way to prevent it from occurring.
When to See a Podiatrist About Pigeon Toe
It is common for parents to be concerned about a problem with their child’s feet. However, there is no need to see a podiatrist for pigeon toe if the child is young and the condition just appeared. For most children, the condition will resolve by itself and not require any treatment.
If you notice your child is walking pigeon-toed and they are eight years of age or older, you can contact a pediatric podiatrist for an evaluation. Your podiatrist will physically examine your child’s feet to determine if your child has intoeing or if there is another cause for the issue. In addition to the exam, a review of your family’s medical history will be discussed, and diagnostic tests such as an X-ray may be ordered to check if the bones in the leg are misaligned.
Typically, pigeon toe will resolve on its own without any intervention. A podiatrist may recommend monitoring the child and observing the condition over a certain amount of time. For cases where the child is experiencing pain or needs further intervention, a podiatrist may recommend the following treatment options:
- Leg braces or casts to correct the position of the feet
- Specialty shoes to correct the shape of the feet
- Stretching the feet of infants
- Therapy to strengthen the legs and hips if there is weakness
In severe cases where the issue does not resolve, surgery may be done for older children. Surgery can reset and realign the position of the thigh or shinbones that are causing the child to walk pigeon-toed.
Pigeon toe does not typically lead to serious complications. However, if it does not resolve and is left untreated, it can cause:
- Problems with jumping or running
- Unbalanced gait
- Foot deformities such as flat feet or bunions
Are You Looking for an Intoeing Specialist in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for intoeing care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.