Pigeon Toes – Intoeing

Pigeon toe and duck feet

Intoeing is when the feet turn inwards when walking. It is common in childhood and is usually outgrown.
With intoeing, children might be prone to tripping, or look awkward when walking or running. There are three common causes of intoeing:

1) Metatarsus Adductus: also known as Metatarsus Varus, is a common foot deformity noted at birth that causes the front half of the foot, or forefoot, to turn inward.

image of metatarsus adductus
2) Internal tibial torsion: the lower leg. Internal tibial torsion is an inward twisting of the tibia, which leads to intoeing of the foot. Although it may not be noticeable until your child starts to walk, this condition is often present since birth. Internal tibial torsion usually affects both legs and could be related to the child’s position in the uterus. Intoeing is the most visible symptom of internal tibial torsion. It means that the feet are noticeably angled toward each other when a child walks or stands.

diagram of internal tibial torsion

3) Internal femoral torsion: the thigh bone. Internal femoral torsion is where the thigh bone turns inwards between the hip and the knee. This is normal in young children, and usually corrects without treatment by the time the child is about 10 years old. When sitting on the floor, children with this condition sometimes sit with their bottom between their heels. There is no evidence that this is harmful, but it might be wise to avoid it. There are no special exercises, braces or special shoes that can help correct internal femoral torsion.
Intoeing is normal in children. However, consult a Podiatrist if:

  • it affects only one leg;
  • it’s severe, and not improving with time;
  • intoeing is causing tripping in a school-age child that affects participation in activities; or
  • the feet are stiff and not improving with time.

At the Foot and Ankle Clinic our highly qualified team of Podiatrists are all members of the Australian Podiatry Association and offer a combined 50 years’ experience. They are trained to diagnose and effectively treat intoeing via a range of treatments.

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