We know it can be concerning to see a child taking his or her early steps with toes pointed inwards, but we want to assure you that intoeing is not particularly abnormal and, even better, the condition typically resolves itself over time. If it helps, remember that children’s bones are rather soft and pliable, and that muscles and connective tissues will strengthen over time. These will help to overcome the initial causes of intoeing and allow the child to start walking in a more natural fashion.
There are essentially three different causes of intoeing:
- Metatarsus adductus – For some children, a case of intoeing is caused by unusually curved feet. The inward curve happens between the toes and the middle part of the foot. Some instances are subtler than others, usually being more flexible than the obvious, rigid cases. Severe cases can at least partially resemble the clubfoot deformity, but this is a separate condition. Typically, metatarsus adductus resolves itself within the first 4 to 6 months and surgery is rarely needed.
- Tibia torsion – Whereas metatarsus adducts affects the foot, tibia torsion causes intoeing when the lower leg is twisted inwards. This begins to develop while the baby is still in the womb, as the legs may be rotated in such a fashion due to the confined space. After birth, the legs will gradually rotate into a more normal position and ultimately align properly. This correction often happens prior to school age and without the need for treatment.
- Femoral anteversion – Femoral anteversion is also an abnormal twisting, but it happens in the upper leg, instead of the lower. The increased twist in the thighbone also develops while the baby is in utero, and tends to spontaneously correct itself in time. Braces, special shoes, and exercises do not generally help the situation and surgical procedures are not usually necessary.
The overwhelming majority of intoeing cases will resolve themselves over time. Even with that being the case, it still can be important to have the condition monitored to ensure there are no long-term concerns or problems. If you would like to have your son or daughter’s lower limbs evaluated in a professional, comfortable environment, bring your child in to see us here at the office of Yuko Miyazaki, DPM.
We take pride in providing gentle, yet effective child foot care services. Whether you want to have a child’s intoeing evaluated or a son or daughter has sustained an injury in a sporting event, we are happy to help. Call us at (510) 647-3744 or schedule an appointment or contact our Berkeley, CA office online today.