Pigeon toe usually corrects itself by the time a child turns 8 years old.
In severe cases, early casting may be used for children over 6 months old. The casting is done under the guidance of a pediatric orthopedist, who is a specialist in treating bone and muscle conditions. A series of casts are applied over 3-6 weeks. The purpose of treatment is to correct the condition before your child starts walking.
Avoid using corrective shoes, shoe inserts, twister cables, or daytime bracing unless recommended by your doctor. These treatments may not help correct your child’s condition and can instead make walking difficult for them.
What are the signs of pigeon toe?
When a child walks or runs with their feet turned in instead of pointing straight, the condition is called pigeon toe or intoeing. The condition can affect one or both feet.
If your child has pigeon toe, you may notice signs that include:
- Abnormal or awkward gait
- Unevenly worn bottoms of shoes
- Frequent tripping and falls
What causes pigeon toe?
Conditions that can cause pigeon toe in a child include:
- Metatarsus adductus (foot turns inward)
- Tibial torsion (inward turning of the shinbone or tibia)
- Femoral anteversion (inward turning of the thigh bone or femur)
These conditions can occur independently or in association with other orthopedic problems. These conditions also run in families. Due to their genetic nature, there is no way to prevent them from occurring.
If signs of pigeon toe appear during infancy, it is likely to be caused by metatarsus adductus. In this condition, only the front part of the foot is turned inwardly. The outer side of the foot is curved like a half moon. Metatarsus adductus is mostly caused by certain positioning of the baby in the uterus.
Most of the time, the condition causes only mild symptoms and usually gets corrected by the time the baby turns 1 year old. Sometimes, the condition is severe and is accompanied by another foot condition called clubfoot. Clubfoot may need orthopedic intervention. Mild cases of metatarsus need no intervention.
Your child may not show signs of pigeon toe until they turn 2 years old. If pigeon toe occurs after the age of 2, the cause is most likely to be the inward twisting of the tibia. This condition is called tibial torsion.
Inward turning of the femur called medial femoral torsion can cause pigeon toe in a child aged 3 years and older.
How is pigeon toe diagnosed?
During well-child visits, your doctor will ask how your child is growing. They will assess your child’s walking and check the strength of your child’s bones and muscles.
If they suspect a problem, they will order X-rays to check your child’s bones.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Intoeing. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/intoeing/
American Academy of Pediatrics. Pigeon Toes (Intoeing). https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/orthopedic/Pages/Pigeon-Toes-Intoeing.aspx
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