Commonly referred to as being "pigeon-toed", intoeing means that when a child walks or runs, the feet turn inward instead of pointing straight ahead. Intoeing is often first noticed by parents when a baby begins walking, but children at various ages may display intoeing for different reasons.
Occasionally, severe intoeing may cause young children to stumble or trip as they catch their toes on the other heel, but the condition is not usually painful in itself, nor does it lead to arthritis.
There are three common conditions causing intoeing:
- Curved foot (metatarsus adductus)
- Twisted shin (tibia torsion)
- Twisted thighbone (femoral anteversion)
Each of these conditions may run in families. They also can simply occur on their own or in association with other orthopaedic problems. Prevention is not usually possible because they occur from developmental or genetic problems that cannot be controlled.
In the vast majority of cases, intoeing will almost always correct itself without the use of casts, braces, surgery, or any special treatment. A child whose intoeing is associated with pain, swelling, or a limp should be evaluated by an orthopaedic surgeon.