Pigeon toes, or pigeon toed, affect young children and usually self-resolves without surgical intervention. The term pigeon toed describes the inward turning of the feet so that the big toes of the child angle towards each other instead of pointing straight forward. While unsettling to the parents the child often does not seem to notice and will engage in normal child play and movement-based activities without encumbrance. Pigeon toes are not club foot, and are much less serious and usually self resolve.
Causes of pigeon toes
Pigeon toes typically stem from three sources and present in those sources at specific developmental timeframes. Pigeon toes usually originate from one of the following situations: angling of the forefoot, twisting of the shin bone, or inward angling of the hip.
Angling of the forefoot causing pigeon toes
Angling of the forefoot causing pigeon toes presents in infants and often self-resolves before the child begins to walk. Your pediatrician keeps a close eye on your child’s development and will recommend at home procedures to complete if needed to straighten the food. These procedures include activities as mild as rubbing the feet in a specific manner, or as severe as the child wearing specialized orthotic bracing to turn the foot properly.
Twisting of the shinbone causing pigeon toes
You may discover that while your infants’ knees point forward the feet angle inwards pointing the toes towards each other. Most commonly this condition manifests from pressure on the legs, while still gestating inside of their mother, to cause a twist in the tibia. Your pediatrician may have you keep an eye on this, or they may just keep and eye on it as your baby develops. Most cases of pigeon toes caused by the twisting of the tibia self-resolve by time your child starts to stand. If you have concerns of that your pediatrician has not addressed, you should bring it up to them.
Pigeon toes caused by inward angle of the hip
Most often pigeon toes in small children that continues to manifest for more than a year after they being to walk originates at the hip. One or both sides of the hip may have an improper angle that extends the leg from a twisted inward position. Children that manifest pigeon toes from hip angulation will prefer to sit cross legged. While their shoes may wear unevenly for the most part children with this type of deformity self-resolve from sitting up straight in a chair for extended periods of time when they start to attend school.
When to see a specialist for pigeon toes
Most cases of pigeon toes self-resolve, but in a small fraction of cases require orthopedic intervention through orthotics or orthopedic surgery to resolve. Pediatricians keep a close eye on your child’s development during the numerous scheduled visits in your child’s firsts years of life. When a pediatrician finds a deviation from proper development, they will recommend that your child see a specialist, and in some cases, they may recommend an orthopedic specialist. If your child presents with pain, discomfort, or has difficulty playing with other children due to pigeon toes then it would be -appropriate to bring it up with your pediatrician or seek out an orthopedic specialist.