Out-toeing in Children: Caring for Turned-Out Feet

If you have a young one, you may know well the experience of baby-proofing your house when they start walking. The cameras come out and memories are captured as they teeter and totter around, learning about balance and gait. It takes a great confidence and strong motor skills to master a stable walk, and if a slight imbalance or abnormality is present, such as out-toeing, it could leave room for concern. Out-toeing in children is not a common problem, and often it does not impact later development, but we want you to be informed about how this condition happens and when you may need to seek treatment.

Twisting and Pointing

We often hear of intoeing, a common gait abnormality when the toes point inward. Out-toeing is just the opposite—as the child stands straight with their knees pointing forward, the toes point outward. It can be concerning to see this, but it usually does not cause the child any pain and most often improves as the child grows and their muscles become stronger. Out-toeing usually appears in the first two years of a child’s life. Most of the time it is due to a rotation of the hips present at birth that corrects within a year of when the child starts walking.

Two other common reasons for this development involve an outward rotation in the leg bones: tibial torsion, which is a twist in the lower leg, or femoral torsion, which is a twist in the thighbone. It is only a slight misalignment, but it causes the bones below, toes included, to follow suit and twist outward as well. Heredity and the position of the baby in the womb are both factors. There are cases where a neuromuscular condition has created growth issues and caused the feet to curve outward. Again, it is rare but if any condition runs in your family, it is worth having their foot health examined by Dr. Harvey Danciger.

Managing Foot Health

We want to state again that we know it can be disconcerting to see your child’s feet looking a little different. Managing their foot health involves monitoring their progress. Out-toeing in children does not cause them any pain, but it could cause him or her to trip or stumble once in awhile. You may also notice your child is inactive or wants to be carried a lot. Some out-toeing is normal, but if above the normal ranges treatment is needed. 

Early diagnosis of abnormalities is the best prevention of future problems. Sometimes an insert put into the shoe may be all that is needed.  Excessive out-toeing causing increased pressure to the bones on the inside of the feet and resultant problems later on in life. Why wait till your child is over the age of eight and still experiencing problems with their feet turning outward that a more aggressive approach may be taken. When there is severe deformity and loss of normal function, there may be surgical options to repair the root of the problem.

Trust the Experts

If you are concerned about your child’s gait or the way their feet are functioning, don’t hesitate to contact Harvey R. Danciger, DPM for assistance. If they have pain or their gait is being impaired by turned-out feet, we can evaluate the underlying cause and make treatment suggestions to improve their condition. Anytime you have questions or concerns about your child’s foot health, call our Palm Desert, CA office at (760) 568-0108 for expert, caring foot care. 

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