Pigeon toed gait, otherwise known as intoeing, is a condition where your toes turn in while walking or running. This condition is more commonly seen in children than in adults, with most of them growing out of it by the age of 8 or before reaching their teenage years. Only in rare cases is surgery recommended as a treatment option for intoeing gait.
What are the causes of intoeing gait?
There are three conditions that can cause intoeing:
Metatarsus adductus – the foot turns inward. This happens when there is limited space in the uterus for the baby to grow, resulting in the front part of their feet to turn inward.
Tibial torsion – this form of intoeing gait is usually present by age 2 and is caused by the twisting of the shinbone.
Femoral anteversion – Children age 3 or above may experience their thigh bone turning in, with girls being more predisposed to this condition.
Intoeing gait does not cause pain nor does it increase the risk of arthritis. However, if your child’s intoeing gait causes them pain, swelling, or if it results in them limping, then it is advisable for you to bring them to a healthcare professional for treatment.
How To Tell If Your Child Has Intoeing Gait?
The symptoms are often easy to see at birth or soon afterward in the cases of metatarsus adductus. You will notice that one or both of your baby’s feet is turned inward even at rest. In cases of tibial torsion, the symptoms may not be noticeable until your child starts taking their first steps – both their feet turn inward with every step.
On the other hand, femoral anteversion is often present by age 5 or 6, and is characterised by the inward turn of your child’s foot and knee. It may also be obvious when your child stands in place. Studies have shown that special shoes, braces, and exercises are not effective treatment options for pigeon toed gait.
How Can Pigeon Toed Gait Be Diagnosed?
If your child is experiencing pains or aches, or tends to be clumsy and experience frequent falls due to a pigeon toed gait, do consult a podiatrist for a thorough lower limb assessment. Specially prescribed insoles, sports taping and targeted exercises are some of the treatment options used to manage intoeing gait.
To diagnose pigeon toed gait, your doctor or podiatrist will observe the way your child stands and walks. They will also conduct physical examinations such as gently moving your child’s feet, feeling how their knees bend, as well as look for signs of twisting in your child’s hips. Some podiatrists may also order an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
Intoeing Gait Treatment Options
In cases of mild to moderate pigeon toed gait, children tend to outgrow them without any treatment. While it can take a few years, the bones will eventually settle into a proper alignment on their own. However, babies with serious metatarsus adductus may require a series of casts placed on their affected foot or feet for a few weeks.
If you are unsure of your child’s pigeon toed gait condition, then it is best to consult a foot specialist for a professional evaluation. You can also engage the help of a qualified podiatrist to assess your child and determine the necessary treatment plan to help them develop a healthy gait and posture. Some of the common treatment options for pigeon toe includes wearing specific footwear that are customised to the shape of your child’s foot as well as physiotherapy.
As the feet of children are highly moldable, early intervention is key to resolving postural deformities, misalignments, as well as gait abnormalities like pigeon toed gait during growth.
Reach out to our qualified podiatrists to find out more about the intoeing gait treatment options that we have.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pigeon Toed Gait
Are Children With Pigeon Toed Gait Able To Exercise?
Children with pigeon toed gait can exercise normally especially since the condition rarely causes pain. The most common issue with children suffering from pigeon-toed gait may trip more often than others during exercise. The tendency of this happening tends to decrease before their toes become fully corrected with treatment.
Are There Possible Health Complications Associated With Pigeon Toed Gait?
Pigeon toed gait does not usually cause other health complications. While walking and running may be affected (as a result of constant tripping), the presence of an intoeing gait usually does not get in the way. However, your child may feel self-conscious if their condition is serious.
As such, early intervention is beneficial in correcting your child’s pigeon toed gait. Intoeing gait treatment options like physiotherapy and a series of posture alignment exercises can give your child a better outcome.
Read our blog for more information on other gait abnormalities observed in babies as well as children.
Why Choose Women And Children Centre (Wacc) As The Treatment Centre Of Choice For Your Child’s Foot Condition?
Our experienced and specialised podiatrists conduct a thorough assessment of your child’s lower limbs, posture, and gait to achieve an accurate diagnosis. What’s more, we do not aim to just treat the presenting symptoms, but to also provide treatment for the underlying alignment and musculoskeletal issues.
In many cases, insoles are not the only solution for feet condition like pigeon toed gait. Posture, alignment issues, or musculoskeletal issues are also risk factors for gait abnormalities. At WACC, we have both physiotherapists and podiatrists in our clinics, providing a holistic approach to managing your child’s condition. Book an appointment with us today to discuss the treatment options available to correct your child’s intoeing gait.