Pigeon toes or in-toeing is a condition in children that makes toes to point inwards while standing or walking. In severe cases, pigeon toe is considered a form of clubfoot. However, in most cases, this condition corrects itself as the child grows.
In-toeing is not painful or bothersome and does not cause additional medical problems such as arthritis.
Symptoms of Pigeon Toe
1. Feet pointing inwards with toes almost touching
3. Stumbling in severe cases
Causes of Children Being Pigeon Toed
The three common causes of in-toeing are:
1. Tibial torsion
The baby is born with twisted shinbone (tibia). This usually occurs if the child developed in a congested womb before birth. At this stage, the baby has soft bones that tend to take any shape. However, this bone slowly untwists as the child grows. The twist is usually gone by the time the child is eight years old.
2. Femoral anteversion
This occurs when the thigh bone (femur) is twisted inwards. However, this usually auto corrects by the time the child is nine or ten years old. In several cases, the twist fails to occur fully thus making the person to walk pigeon-toed during adulthood.
3. Metartasus adductus
This occurs when the child has feet that are curved inwards. Similarly, most of these children get better with time even without any treatment. However, in some cases, this condition persists. This occurs in children with much-curved feet. The condition can be treated by bracing or using special shoes to straighten the curved feet.
Can Pigeon Toe Be Treated?
An infant’s foot, unlike an adult’s foot, changes. This is because the infant is still undergoing development. In-toeing and clubfoot in infants can be detected even before they begin to walk.
It is normal for children who do not have Metartasus adductus to appear in-toe as they begin to walk. This is normal up to three years. It occurs due to the structural difference in the infant’s foot and the changes taking place in the leg and femur bones. As the child grows past three, the feet should begin to straighten. However, if pigeon toe continues past three years, it should be alarming. Such a child requires regular examination by a podiatrist to ensure the bones develop correctly and the child’s gait progresses correctly.
When to See a Podiatrist
If you diagnose your child being pigeon toed past the age of three, consider seeing a podiatrist for proper examination and further explanation of what to expect with your child.
How is In-Toeing Treated?
Most medical experts say that no treatment is necessary for in-toeing in children under three years. However, for severe cases, early casting can be useful in correcting this condition. Casting is recommended if in-toeing persists beyond six months or it the child’s feet appears rigid and difficult to straighten. Pediatric orthopedists administer casting for three to six weeks. The main aim of casting is to correct in-toeing before the child starts walking.
In-toeing usually corrects itself without any special treatment. However, if your child shows difficulty when walking, see a pediatrician to refer you to a qualified orthopedist for treatment.
Since in-toeing often corrects itself, it is advisable to avoid nonprescribed treatments such as daytime bracing, use of corrective shoes, twister cables or back manipulations since they interfere with the child’s normal play or walking.