As any parent is bound to know, a child’s first steps are never perfect. They wobble, they weave, and they ultimately fall over before starting to get the hang of things. Once children get moving at a steadier clip, that walk may still not look exactly as one expects. Several different gait abnormalities may develop, but we will concentrate on the feet turning outward, or out-toeing.
Out-toeing and its close relative in-toeing are the most common abnormalities in walking that cause parents to consult medical advice. It is a rather obvious condition to spot simply from looking at the way a child walks. It rarely shows any other symptoms, and it rarely causes a child any pain.
In most cases, out-toeing will correct itself naturally as a child’s bones continue to develop. Surgery, custom-made orthotics, braces, and other treatments are typically not needed. The vast majority of children who grows out of out-toeing naturally should have no disadvantages in motion or performance against children who did not grow up with the condition.
Causes of Curving
The most common cause of out-toeing in a young child is a small twist in the bones of the upper or lower legs. The lower leg bone, or tibia, is the most common to blame. If it rotates outward, then a child’s toes will point outward as well.
It is not fully certain why most gait abnormalities of this type develop. A great number of experts believe that one’s family history can play a role. If out-toeing runs among a family line, the odds of a child also having it might be higher. Another theory involves the position in which a child grows in the womb. In certain cases, developing bones might rotate slightly to make the most of available room in the uterus. After birth, it may take some time for these bones to revert back to a standard position.
What to Do
In the case of a rotated tibia (tibial torsion), the bones will tend to correct themselves by the age of 4. In some cases out-toeing will persist longer.
The best practice when discovering your child is out-toeing is to see an expert for a check-up. Dr. Sanjay Patel can rule out potential causes for concern. Periodical examinations can help ensure development is happening smoothly and the condition is not persisting.
Out-toeing that is still present after 3-4 years of age might be more of a concern, and a gait abnormality accompanied by pain most definitely is. If you notice limping, one foot turning out more than the other, a worsening of the condition or other delays in development, then a closer look at the problem is crucial.
If you have concerns about your child’s out-toeing or other conditions, you are far from the only parent. Just like you, we at Family Foot Care & Surgery would rather cover all bases and make sure any potential problems are caught before they become something more difficult to handle. Call (203) 876-7736 for our Milford office or (203) 288-4055 for our office in Hamden.