Pigeon toes, or in-toeing, is a condition causing the toes to point in. It is common in infants and young children. If a child is pigeon toed it does not mean there is something wrong with the feet. It just tells which way the toes point when the child or person walks.
There are three common causes of in-toeing. In children under 2 years the most common cause is a shin bone that is twisted. Even with the twisted shin bone, the knees point straight ahead. It may result from the baby’s position in the mother’s womb before being born. This problem usually gets better as the baby starts pulling up to stand and walk. It may take another 6 to 12 months to completely go away.
The most common cause of pigeon toes in girls over 2 years old is a hip that turns in causing the thigh bone to twist. When the thigh bone twists, the knees and toes point in. Children with a twisted thigh bone often sit with their legs crossed. The best way to treat this is to have the child sit in a chair with their legs uncrossed. Often this cannot be done until they are school age. This condition usually clears up by itself, but it may take 1 to 3 years for the thigh bone to straighten.
When the front part of the foot turns in, it can also cause pigeon toes. Usually, this will get better as the baby gets older. If it is very mild, the parents may be shown how to rub the outside of the foot to help the foot to go straight. Some children may need to wear special shoes. If the foot is rigid and cannot be straightened, it may be necessary to put casts on the feet and lower legs. The casts are usually put on before 8 months of age. If the foot has not straightened by the time a child is walking, the child may walk with his toes pointing in. The child’s shoes may wear in an unusual way.
Most children outgrow pigeon-toes and do not need treatment. It may take several years before the pigeon-toed foot is straight. In rare cases, surgery may be needed.