Walking Pigeon-toed: Normal for Children or Only Normal for Pigeons?

Intoeing: What is it?

What many of us know as ‘pigeon-toe walking’ is actually a common condition seen in many toddlers called “Intoeing.”  Intoeing, as the name would imply, is a condition in which the feet and toes point inward.  This, as well as other conditions pertaining to children’s feet, is commonly noticed as a child begins to walk.

Causes:

Intoeing may be caused by abnormalities in the thigh, leg or foot.  The most common cause is internal tibial torsion, a twisting deformity of the leg between the knee and foot.  The most common cause noticed in early childhood is femoral anteversion, an internal rotation of the hip joint.  The third cause is metatarsus adductus, a condition in which the metatarsals, or long bones of the foot, face inward.  It is not entirely clear how these three variants develop, although there are theories, including genetics and fetal position.

Treatment:

Initial treatment for intoeing involves working with your child to encourage him or her to consciously push the feet out when walking and standing.  Physical therapy and orthotics from your podiatrist may also be beneficial.  In very severe cases, where conservative measures fail and there is a real functional impairment, surgery may be necessary.  However, it is important to note that in the vast majority of cases, a child who intoes will probably grow out of it, and will certainly be able to participate in all activities even if he or she does not grow out of it.

Intoeing, while generally self-correcting, is not uncommon, but it is important to recognize it early on so that treatment can be initiated when necessary.  Call our office or click here to make an appointment in our NYC office to make sure your child’s feet are getting the proper treatments needed.  This way, your child will continue to develop and grow and those little feet pointing inward can turn into big healthy feet, attached to happy kids.

Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson

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