Children's feet develop slowly, and their gait may not be the same as an adult's when they are first starting to walk. In fact, it's common for children's feet to curve inward toward each other (in-toeing) or point outward (out-toeing) as they begin to develop balance.
These foot abnormalities usually resolve themselves in a few years. However, some cases will require intervention to make sure the child's feet and legs develop normally.
When Parents Should Seek Help for a Child's In-toeing or Out-toeing
Long-lasting in-toeing or out-toeing usually stems from an abnormal rotation in the thighs (femoral anteversion), shin bones (tibial torsion), or the foot itself (metatarsus adductus). Depending on the cause, the most effective course of treatment for your child may include:
- Evaluation. If your child is young and the condition affects both feet, we may only need to monitor your child's development to ensure the bones are growing correctly and rule out neurological disorders.
- Gait correction. If the curve of the foot is making your child trip or is causing pain, they may need special exercises or casting. Once the feet are gently stretched into place, your child will be put into a cast or boot to hold the foot in place as it grows into the correct position.
- Surgery. Although rare, more invasive treatments may be used for a condition that is causing extreme foot and leg pain or prevents the child from walking.
It's important that parents do not attempt to correct a child's foot deformity before speaking to a podiatrist. While there are many boots, braces, and shoes on the market aimed at treating these conditions, none have been shown to significantly improve in- and out-toeing.
The foot specialists at Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry offer free initial consultations and can create a customized treatment plan for every member of the family. Simply fill out our online contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET to set up your first visit.