Parents are perpetual worriers. Why is my child such a picky eater? Is my child getting enough vitamins? Am I approaching toilet training the right way?
Our answer is usually “Yes!” if the child is under age 3. But each child has his or her own genetic disposition and habits, and develops at his or her own pace.
Toe walking is a very common observation in young children and it’s natural that parents will worry about the child’s walking development. Studies show that more than 50% of children who tend to walk on their toes or the balls of the feet will outgrow this behavior by the age of 5.
Toe walking is sometimes a result of certain disorders like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, but in many cases the cause is unknown. The child is considered an “idiopathic toe walker” if it extends beyond age 3 and the cause may be related to nerves, muscles or other unidentified factors.
Quick Facts About Toe Walking
- Many children who exhibit toe walking have normal motor development.
- For most children, toe walking may be just a habit and usually doesn’t indicate any underlying problem.
- Idiopathic toe walking, with no identified cause, can run in families.
- Some of the results of toe walking can be stiffness, tightening and pain in the Achilles tendon.
- Treatment is usually not necessary if the child is under age 7 unless the Achilles tendon or calf muscles have been shortened.
Achilles tendon problems associated with toe walking can be relieved with gentle stretching exercises prescribed by our foot care specialist.
How We Treat Toe Walking
If your child is still toe walking after age 2, please schedule a visit to our office. We’ll check the Achilles tendon and calf muscles for tightness and observe your child walking to check for the degree of coordination and any abnormalities.
For a child with a physical abnormality rather than a habit resulting in toe walking, we may:
- Apply a splint or leg brace to foster a more normal gait.
- Prescribe physical therapy to stretch the calf muscles and Achilles tendon gently.
- Apply a series of casts that will move the toes toward the shin gradually.
In extreme cases where conservative methods haven’t worked, we will discuss surgery that can lengthen the tight and shortened muscles and tendons.
Let Us Know If We Can Help With Your Child’s Foot Problem
Board certified podiatrist Dr. Lawrence J. Kales has extensive experience with pediatric podiatry including toe walking, flat feet and plantar warts. Please come in to Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle for an examination – you can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at (727) 868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at (352) 683-5799