Pigeon Toe

Pigeon Toe

Pigeon toe is a condition in which the feet curve toward each other and the toes point inward while walking or standing. This may also be called intoeing. This condition is not painful, and it rarely causes problems with walking or running.

What are the causes?

This condition may be caused by:

  • The way your child was positioned in the uterus before birth.
  • A bone in the lower leg being twisted (internal tibial torsion).
  • A bone in the thigh being twisted (excess femoral anteversion).

What increases the risk?

This condition is more likely to develop in children who have family members who have had pigeon toe.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • The front part of each foot curving inward.
  • Toes that point inward while standing or walking.
  • Knees that point inward.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on:

  • Your child’s medical history and family medical history.
  • A physical exam.
  • Imaging tests to check for bone problems, such as X-rays or a CT scan.

How is this treated?

Usually, treatment is not needed for this condition. The feet usually straighten on their own by age 8. If they do not straighten by age 8 but your child’s symptoms are mild, your child still may not need treatment.

Treatment may be needed for:

  • Infants who have severe or rigid pigeon toe or pigeon toe that lasts for more than 6 months.
  • Children with severe cases that do not get better with time.

Treatment options may include:

  • Certain kinds of shoes, braces, or casts to help straighten the foot or a twisted bone. These are usually used before the child begins walking.
  • Stretching exercises. These may be helpful for infants.
  • Surgery to straighten a bone that is severely twisted.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Have your child do stretching exercises as told by your child’s health care provider.
  • If treatment involves wearing a prescribed shoe, brace, or cast, make sure your child wears it correctly and for as long as told by your child’s health care provider.
  • If no treatment was prescribed, watch for changes in your child’s legs and feet. Also note any changes in the way your child walks. Tell your child’s health care provider about any changes.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your child’s health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your child’s feet start to turn in more.
  • One of your child’s feet turns in more than the other.
  • Your child has trouble with prescribed shoes, braces, or casts.
  • The condition does not go away after age 8.
  • Your child has any of the following:
    • Leg pain.
    • Pain that gets worse with straightening and bending the toes.
    • Problems with clumsiness or tripping.

Summary

  • Pigeon toe is a condition in which the feet curve toward each other and the toes point inward while walking or standing.
  • This condition is more likely to develop in children who have family members who have had pigeon toe.
  • Usually, treatment is not needed for this condition. The feet usually straighten on their own by age 8.
  • In some cases, certain kinds of shoes, braces, or casts may be used to help straighten the foot or a twisted bone.
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