We sometimes see children who point their toes toward each other, commonly referred to as “pigeon toed” or intoeing. These are both terms for what a podiatrist calls metatarsus adductus. Metatarsus adductus is a rare problem that occurs when in young children, often from birth, experience a foot deformity which causes the forefoot (front half of the foot) to turn inward.
A physical examination will be used to determine if the intoeing is flexible (able to be straightened by hand) or non flexible. If the intoeing is non flexible then in order to make this diagnosis your podiatrist will want to take x-rays of the foot to assure the intoeing is occurring because of bones in the foot. This is because often this problem can also be caused by something as simple as muscle weakness, for which the child can strengthen these muscles with physical therapy. Other causes include bones further up the leg, such as the shin bone (called tibial torsion) or even the thigh bone being twisted inward (called medial femoral torsion), so determining the cause of the intoeing is an integral first step.
If it is determined that the bones in the foot are deformed and causing the foot to turn inward then the podiatrist may choose to try and conservatively correct the problem with orthotic shoe inserts designed to push the foot back to a neutral or centered position. If the condition is extreme in an infant your doctor may recommend corrective casting. If a child is still experiencing intoeing as they age into the double digits then the problem may require surgical correction.
If you notice your child is frequently falling, tripping over their own feet, or maybe having trouble keeping up with their peers, these are all signs of intoeing (aside from the obvious turning inward of the foot). The podiatrists and staff at Ankle & Foot Associates are ready to help put both you and your child at ease with superior care and treatment at any of our 17 offices in Georgia and South Carolina.