Help for Intoeing
Intoeing, commonly referred to as being pigeon toed, happens when children walk with their feet turned in. It’s a common condition that can be present at birth or develop in young children.
Intoeing usually doesn’t cause pain or prevent a child from learning to walk or run and often corrects itself. Most children’s feet gradually straighten out as they grow older and their walking and running improves. If the condition continues and is left untreated, it can lead to complications including:
An unbalanced gait (way of walking) that can cause strain
Reduced athletic ability because of problems running and jumping
Foot deformities including bunions, hammertoes and flat feet
What causes intoeing?
There are different causes for intoeing depending on where the legs or feet are misaligned:
Curved foot (metatarsus adductus), which is usually present at birth
Twisted shin (tibia torsion), the most common cause of intoeing, which occurs around age 1 to 3
Twisted thighbone (femoral anteversion), which occurs around age 3 to 8
The exact causes for these foot and leg problems are not certain, but medical experts suspect that it may be related to:
Family history of intoeing
Cramped position in the uterus
What are the symptoms of intoeing?
Most children outgrow intoeing between ages 8 and 10. But your pediatrician may recommend testing if these symptoms continue or worsen:
Feet shaped like crescent moons, mainly in infants
Shins or thighbones that turn inward
Limping, pain or swelling
Problems with gait (way of walking) such as tripping or unusual clumsiness
How is intoeing diagnosed?
Your doctor may recommend further testing if he or she suspects that your child has intoeing, including:
Physical examination of your child’s legs
Diagnostic imaging, including CT scans, to evaluate the alignment of your child’s leg bones
X-ray images or fluoroscopy (X-ray video) to observe your child’s leg bones in motion
How do you treat intoeing?
Intoeing usually corrects itself without treatment in almost all children. However, your pediatrician may recommend treatment if your child develops severe problems. There are different options depending on the cause of the intoeing, including:
Casts or corrective shoes for babies from 6 to 9 months old who have severely deformed or rigid feet
Surgery to realign the shinbone or thigh bone in older children