Intoeing: Dealing With Turned in Toes

Defining Intoeing in ChildrenRight from birth, a focus is put on feet. We count to make sure there are ten toes, we take cute little baby footprints, we tickle tiny toes to hear giggles and find the cutest shoes possible for little feet. When an abnormality is present, it can be concerning for parents, such as when a child has an intoeing problem. While this is common and generally has no lasting implications for a child’s foot health or development, it is always wise to monitor your child’s activity level and seek treatment if you see the condition worsen, or if your little one complains of any discomfort.

Why Toes Point Inward

Intoeing is a common deformity that can affect children’s feet and is often referred to as being “pigeon-toed.” Some believe this phrase refers to the way pigeons stand, as their legs are farther apart and their feet turn inward for stability. When children’s feet angle in, it is usually the result of a skeletal issue. The condition is often first noticed when a child starts to walk, but it can also occur later in childhood as well. There are several underlying reasons that can cause the feet to turn: metatarsus adductus, tibial torsion, and femoral anteversion.

With metatarsus adductus there is a curve in the middle of the foot. The front of the foot is turned inward and the outer foot is curved like a half-moon. This is thought to develop as a result of the baby’s position in the womb. More common on the left side.  The confined space in the uterus can cause the feet to be tucked in tight and remain curved for a long period of time. The curving of the feet may be flexible or rigid and may straighten out by around 6 months of age.

Tibial torsion involves a twisting of the tibia, or shin bone. It is also believed to be a deformity that is caused by positioning in the womb and is usually outgrown as the tibia untwists with the child’s growth. Femoral anteversion is when a turning of the femur causes the hip bones to be excessively rotated as well. This also results in the toes facing each other. This type of deformity becomes most obvious when a child is school-aged.

How We Can Help

The great baseball player Babe Ruth actually ran around the bases intentionally pigeon-toed because he believed it helped him run faster. Indeed, a child can usually participate in all normal activities. An intoeing problem may cause pain and may not resolve on its own over time. It is still wise, though, to have children’s feet examined to confirm intoeing and rule out any other foot problems, or serious medical conditions like possible neurological disorders. We encourage you to contact Dr. Harvey Danciger DPM, particularly if your child is complaining of pain, if you see his or her gait worsening, or if the foot positioning is impacting the child’s ability to be active.

When an intoeing problem requires intervention, we can provide special shoes, braces, casts, and splints. Surgery is typically only necessary in extreme cases.

If you would like an assessment of your child’s foot health, or have concerns about your child’s intoeing, make an appointment today with Harvey R. Danciger, DPM. You can reach our Palm Desert, CA office at (760) 568-0108 or contact us online.

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Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle