What is intoeing?
Intoeing is a gait variation commonly referred to as a ‘pigeon-toed’ gait. It occurs mostly in children when they walk or run with one or both feet turned in. Although it is a gait variation, it is not typically considered abnormal.
Intoeing is a common paediatric podiatry problem, especially in a child’s first 2-3 years of walking and during early to middle primary school ages. Most intoeing cases tend to present as asymptomatic (no symptoms), however some severe cases can cause issues with tripping, stability and balance.
What are the causes of intoeing?
There are 3 main causes of intoeing:
- This is when the foot is curved inwards from the middle of the foot to the toes.
- It can resemble a mild clubfoot deformity – but this is a separate problem.
- If treatment is necessary, it normally involves casts or special corrective shoes between 6-9 months of age.
Internal tibial torsion
- This is when the tibia (shin bone) has an internal twist and turns inwards.
- It is very common in infancy and childhood.
- Tibial torsion normally improves in children with growth up to 12 years of age.
Internal Femoral Anteversion (torsion)
- This when the femur (thigh bone) turns inwards between the hip and knee joints.
- It normally corrects in children by age 10.
- Children with this condition often sit in the ‘W’ position, which should always be avoided.
Does intoeing cause problems?
Mild intoeing rarely causes any significant problems. Severe intoeing can cause issues with balance and stability, which increases the likelihood of stumbling and tripping. There is no link between intoeing and degenerative arthritis in adulthood.
Is treatment required for intoeing?
Treatment of intoeing is an often-debated topic as in most individuals it tends to resolve naturally around the ages of 8-12. For successful treatment it is vital that the cause of intoeing is diagnosed so consultation with a podiatrist is always recommended. The podiatrist will then advise you if your child requires any further treatment or if the condition will improve naturally.
Podiatry treatment options can vary from addressing posture abnormalities, stretching and strengthening to orthotics and gait plates.
Gait plates are a proprioception orthotic and can help a child walk straigther when wearing them. It wont fix intoeing without addressing other causes but clinically our podiatrists find that gait plates can help reduce tripping in severe intoeing children.
If you are concerned about your child’s intoeing it is best to make an appointment with one of our Melbourne podiatrists for thorough diagnosis and accurate children’s gait analysis.