In-Toeing In Children

Children’s Feet – In-Toeing

What Is In-Toeing?

‘In-toeing’ in children’s feet, (sometimes called ‘pigeon-toed’), is when the feet turn inwards when walking. It can happen on both feet or can be on just one foot. It can be common in toddlers but they usually grow out of it between 5-7 years.  Children that in-toe, are usually more prone to tripping, or look awkward when walking or running.


What Causes In-Toeing?

There are three common causes of in-toeing. The type of in-toeing will also determine on when to seek treatment or advice.


  1. Metatarsus Adductus: On a normal foot, the outside of the foot is normally straight, however in Metatarsus Adductus, the foot curves inwards. Metatarsus Adductus is thought to be related to the position of the baby when growing in the mother’s womb. Most babies with Metatarsus Adductus have flexible feet and they generally grow out of a curved foot by ages 2-3 years old.


  1. Internal tibial torsion: This where the tibia (bone between the ankle and the knee of the leg) turns inwards. Tibial torsion is another common In-Toeing condition seen in toddlers, and it usually corrects itself by the age of 7-8 years.


  1. Internal femoral torsion: This is where the Femur (the thigh bone of the leg between the hip and the knee) turns inwards. This can also be commonly seen in toddlers and early childhood. A child with this type of in-toeing often sits on the floor with their legs in the ‘W’ position. It can resolve by itself, often with children growing out of it by 10 years of age.


How Do You Treat In-Toeing?

Treatment for In-Toeing in children’s feet, is dependent on what the cause of In-Toeing is. Our podiatrists who specialise in children’s, will check your child’s walking patterns, the mobility and flexibility of different joints and muscles in the feet, hips and legs (called a Biomechanical Assessment) to help determine where the in-toeing is coming from. Then a treatment plan (if one is needed) can be made. Treatment will also depend on whether it’s one or both feet or legs that are affected.

Treatment can range from gentle foot and leg exercises to help. Some children will require foot supports.


When Should I Seek A Podiatrist For Treatment For In-Toeing?

Although some degree of in-toeing is normal depending on the age of your child, you should seek a professional opinion if:

  • In-toeing affects one leg only
  • In-toeing is severe and not improving as your child grows
  • In-toeing is causing your child to trip often and affects or limits them in different activities
  • If the feet are stiff (not flexibile)
  • If you as the parent are not sure or are concerned

***Note: Parents often say they wish they had listened to their gut and got their child checked out sooner***

The best treatment is prevention so if you are concerned about your child or a loved one, call our friendly team to make a booking today (03) 9372-7452 or contact us through our online booking form.

Article by: Kim Thompson (BHSc Pod NZ MAPodA AAPSM)

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