Don’t Tiptoe Around Your Child’s Toe Walking

Ah, the pitter-patter of little feet.  We all look forward to hearing it, and it is a great source of joy.   Although sometimes, those feet can bring us a little anxiety if our child's gait just doesn't seem right.  There are manyconditions that we, as parents may see in our kids' feet, and it can be hard to tell what's normal and what needs to be treated by a NYC podiatrist.   One common condition treated in our office is Toe Walking.

Toe Walking: What Is It?

Generally, children start walking at around one year of age.   Around this time, some may exhibit a gait pattern in which he or she walks on the toes, hence the name: toe walking.  It’s not always clear why some kids walk this way, and in most cases, the child will outgrow the condition within a year or two.

Causes:

In rare cases, toe walking may be due to certain neuromuscular conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Autism, spinal cord abnormalities, or Muscular Dystrophy.  Typically though, an underlying cause cannot be identified.  The condition is then considered “idiopathic toe walking,” which means just that -- toe walking due to an unknown cause.  These children often have a tight Achilles tendon, as well as sensory issues.

Treatment:

Initial evaluation should be performed by a pediatrician who then may refer the child out to a podiatrist for further evaluation.  As parents, it's important for you to notice when the child is toe walking and gently remind them not to walk on tippy toes.  Encouraging and rewarding the child for learning to walk on the full foot is a great, effective way to treat the child at home.  However if the condition persists, physical therapy is a good first line of treatment that may involve gait training, Achilles tendon stretching, and managing any underlying sensory issues through tactile exercises.  A custom insole, or orthotic from your NYC Foot Doctor, will also help to encourage the child to place full weight on the foot.  In more severe symptomatic cases, a series of casts may be applied to gradually stretch the Achilles tendon, and if that fails, the Achilles tendon may be surgically lengthened.  If you think your child may be in need of further treatments, contact our office to easily set up an appointment.

Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM

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