In-toeing or Pigeon Toes in Children

In-toeing (pigeon toes) is very common in children. You may be concerned about in-toeing, especially if your child trips or falls frequently. So what’s normal during your child’s development and when should you seek advice?

In-toeing is common in younger children

The most common cause of in-toeing is tight muscles and ligaments around the hips. In most cases this will self-correct without any treatment. As your child grows, hip ligaments and muscles stretch. By around 12 years old, most in-toeing will be replaced with normal gait patterns. Exercises to strengthen hip muscles and stretch tight ligaments can be very useful for these children. A few children will go on to have in-toeing as their normal adult gait.

Highly curved, banana or crescent shaped feet (Metatarsus adductus) is another cause of in-toeing. Treatment for Metatarsus adductus must be started before 1 year of age and is best started as early as possible (3 months). If you think your baby’s feet look curved, it’s important you seek advice from your podiatrist early.

Normally, the long leg bones twist inwards as children grow. Too much twist in the leg bones (Femoral antitorsion and Tibial torsion) is a very rare cause of in-toeing that may require corrective surgery if the twist is very significant.

In-toeing can also be a symptom of other problems with the hip joint, bone or muscles. Feet First principal, Wes Huck, recommends an assessment especially if:

  • you think your child’s in-toeing is getting worse
  • in-toeing is more noticeable on one side
  • your child has foot or leg pain with in-toeing

If you have any concerns about your child’s gait call 9319 3030 for an appointment.


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