A Peek at Pigeon Toes

There’s a reason we call kids of a certain age “toddlers.” They have a tendency to, well, toddle. Setting aside the excitement and pride that both parents and kids feel as a child begins to develop mobility and independence, the truth is those first few steps are rarely a thing of beauty.Young child with pigeon toes

Even allowing for the “normal” lack of coordination or grace, however, some walking styles can still set off red flags for parents. One example? Kids who walk with “pigeon toes.” This is also commonly called intoeing, and it’s a catch-all term for walking with the feet and toes pointed inward, rather than straight ahead or slightly outward.

The first thing to note about pigeon-toed walking is that more than one condition or issue can cause it. Depending on which bones are affected, the presentation of pigeon-toed walking might appear slightly different.

  • The foot itself might be curved or bent. This is called metatarsus adductus.
  • The shinbone, or tibia, might be twisted (tibial torsion). This would cause the entire foot—ankle, heel and all—to point inward.
  • The thighbone, or femur, might be twisted (femoral anteversion). This would cause the entire lower leg, including the knees, to point inward as well.

Factors such as muscle weakness, short tendons, genetics, and even the position of the child within the mother’s uterus are thought to contribute to the emergence of pigeon-toed walking in young children.

The second thing to note is that, most of the time, mild forms of intoeing are a normal variation in childhood development and should disappear in time. However, a small percentage of cases persist beyond the first few years of life, and occasionally even into adulthood. That’s why you should always get your child checked to be safe, especially if the pigeon toeing is severe. We’ll check for underlying problems (neuromuscular disorders, abnormal bone coalitions, etc.) that may need further treatment, and give you instructions on how you can monitor your child and check future progress.

To schedule an appointment in Princeton, call (609) 924-8333. For Roselle Park, dial (908) 687-5757. You can also request an appointment online by completing our contact form.