Understanding Pigeon Toes

Having strong healthy feet is critical to your child’s all round growth. Any impediment in the ability to walk, run and play will affect the child’s social, academic and sporting development. It can also lead to a variety of health issues that may emerge in later life. Among the most common of foot conditions in younger children is pigeon toes (or “intoeing”). This is when the feet do not point straight ahead but turn inwards. The condition may affect one or both feet.

Pigeon Toes during Infancy

There are a number of reasons for pigeon toes to develop. Among the most common is that the position of the fetus in the womb was such that the feet were not able to form correctly. The most common signs of the condition are:

  • The front portion of the infant’s foot turns inwards when he is lying on his back.
  • The outer side of the foot is curved in a half moon shape.

Although this condition may resolve itself during the first year, it must be checked as soon as it is noticed. If treatment is required but not provided, the foot could be permanently deformed and even result in a clubfoot condition.

Pigeon Toeing In Later Childhood

When pigeon toeing occurs during the second year, it is often due to the twisting of the shin bone, causing the feet to become misaligned. If it occurs between the ages of 3 and 10, if is usually due to the inward turning of the thigh bone. Both these conditions are often hereditary.


There are divergent opinions of the need to treat pigeon toes in infants under the age of 6 months. In many cases the child will outgrow the condition naturally without the need for treatment. However, this can never be certain and if the condition exists, a consultation with a podiatric specialist is essential. In some cases the doctor may recommend the use of casts for a period of a few months to straighten out the feet. The objective is to correct the condition before the child starts walking. When the condition develops in later years, and other treatments prove to be ineffective, surgery may be required to provide a lasting cure.

As the condition is common, a number of questionable treatments like twister cables, shoe inserts, back manipulation, corrective shoes and braces for the legs and feet have been tried in the past. These rarely, if ever, correct the problem and also interfere with a child’s normal activities. Only a foot and ankle specialist will be able to decide on the right treatment.

Pigeon toes may not have an immediate perceptible effect on your child’s mobility. But unless corrected quickly, the condition can increase in severity and affect the quality of life. Early detection may result in simple and quick treatment and cure. The longer it remains undiagnosed, the more complex the treatment and correction. Regular checkups by a qualified foot and ankle specialist are the best way of detecting pigeon toes and other conditions that may affect your child’s feet.


Popular Posts