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Pigeon Toe Intoeing

The basics of intoeing

Pigeon Toe IntoeingPigeon Toe Intoeing is a condition when the tips of the feet are rotated inwards towards each other instead of pointing forward. It is commonly found in children and can affect walking. The majority of cases of intoeing found in children under the age of ten corrects themselves. Intoeing falls into three different categories. They are:

  • Persistent femoral anteversion (twisted thigh bone) is a condition where the hip joint is bent forward causing the legs and feet to turn further inward.
  • Tibial torsion (twisted shin bone) is caused by a twisted leg bone causing the feet to turn towards each other.
  • Metatarsus adductus (curved foot) is when the feet turn inward starting in the middle of the foot and continuing to the toes. It can sometimes looks similar to clubfoot.

Signs and symptoms of intoeing

  • Unsteady walking, stumbling, tripping over toes, etc.
  • Discernible inward turn of feet
  • An awkward gait or another pronounced abnormal way of walking
  • Irregular wearing on the soles of your shoes.

The causes of Pigeon Toe intoeing

While there is no known cause of intoeing, it is not uncommon to sometimes run in the family.

Diagnosing intoeing

When performing an exam for intoeing, your healthcare provider will likely take some of the following steps.

  • Perform a visual examination of the legs and feet.
  • Observe and note any patterns of the patient’s walking.
  • Perform several X-rays to get a better view of the structure of the legs and feet.

Intoeing treatment

There is no recommended treatment for intoeing in children under the age of ten. In most instances, cases of intoeing will correct themself. If the condition does not self-correct, you may need to take additional steps. The proper treatment depends on the cause of the intoeing.

  • Persistent femoral anteversion (twisted thigh bone): Typically the condition self-corrects prior to the child’s 5th birthday. Special exercise programs, splints and orthopedic shoes are generally not effective. If the problem is more serious, surgery may be recommended to reset the bone in the proper place.
  • Tibial torsion (twisted shin bone): This complication typically corrects itself before the age of five. Special exercise programs, splints and orthopedic shoes are generally not effective. Only in the most severe cases is surgery performed to set the bone properly.
  • Metatarsus adductus (curved foot): The most common of the three, curved foot usually corrects itself before the child is five to six months old. In more severe cases of Metatarsus adductus intoeing, physicians may recommend using a cast, splint or special orthopedic shoes to help realign the foot, correcting the condition over time. Surgery is almost never used to treat this class of intoeing.

How does pigeon toe affect a child’s gait or mobility?

Pigeon toe (intoeing) can impact a child’s gait and mobility in several ways. Children with pigeon toe may exhibit an inward rotation of the feet, causing their toes to point inward instead of straight ahead. This altered foot positioning can affect their balance and coordination, potentially leading to an unsteady gait. It may also result in tripping or stumbling while walking or running. Over time, if left unaddressed, pigeon toe can affect a child’s overall mobility and may contribute to discomfort or pain. Early intervention and appropriate treatment can help improve a child’s gait and mobility, allowing them to move more comfortably and efficiently.

When is surgery recommended for pigeon toe correction?

Surgery for pigeon toe correction is relatively rare and is typically considered only in severe and persistent cases that do not respond to non-surgical treatments. Surgeons may recommend this option when:

  1. Conservative measures fail: If methods like physical therapy, orthotics, or bracing do not correct the condition adequately.
  2. Functional limitations: When pigeon toe significantly impairs a child’s mobility, balance, or quality of life.
  3. Underlying structural issues: If there are structural abnormalities in the bones or joints contributing to the condition.
  4. Risk of complications: In cases where untreated pigeon toe might lead to other orthopedic issues or persistent pain.

What age is typical for pigeon toe to resolve on its own?

Pigeon toe (intoeing) often resolves on its own during childhood, typically between the ages of 4 and 7 years. This is because as a child’s bones, muscles, and ligaments develop and strengthen, they naturally adapt to proper foot alignment. Most cases of mild pigeon toe in toddlers and young children gradually correct themselves without intervention. However, some children may take longer, and the timeline can vary depending on the severity of the condition.