Most of us have observed small children walking on their tip-toes. About 5% of children toe-walk. Often, this is a phase or habit which stops after a short time. In other cases, however, it can represent a problem requiring treatment.
Any child who continuously walks on their toes should be evaluated by a podiatrist. The podiatrist will observe the child’s gait and will examine range of motion and strength of the foot and leg. Sometimes, an X-ray may be taken to rule out bone or joint abnormalities.
The majority of cases of toe-walking are “idiopathic” or habitual. These cases have no identifiable underlying cause, but often still require treatment.
Another common cause of toe-walking is called “equinus”, which is tightness of the Achilles tendon and the muscles of the back of the leg. This tightness pulls the Achilles tendon down too much as the child walks.
A third cause of toe-walking is neuromuscular or neurodevelopmental disorders. These are often subtle and can be difficult to diagnose.
The treatment of toe-walking is dependent on the underlying condition. Stretching, bracing devices, and in-shoe orthotic devices are all effective in helping to eliminate toe-walking and develop a normal gait. Rarely, surgical intervention may be necessary.
If your child is a toe-walker, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with us.