Best practices in medicine continue to evolve based on new findings. Those of a certain age might remember things like braces, casts, splints, or even surgical corrections—for themselves or those they knew—to address toes that pointed in or out (intoeing and out-toeing) when they were kids, but there’s a better treatment out there now.
And what is that treatment you ask? Well, some people might glibly call it “nothing,” but we prefer the term “careful observation.” The truth is, young children whose toes point in or out almost always grow out of the condition by age 8 (or earlier, depending on the severity and location of the rotation). On top of that, while methods like bracing or casting were once thought to be useful for accelerating the correction, studies have revealed this to generally be not the case.
That doesn’t mean you can ignore intoeing or out-toeing in your child, however. First, it’s always a good idea to have a podiatrist fully evaluate cases of toes that point in or out as soon as you notice it, in order to fully rule out more serious problems such as neurological conditions. Second, as your child grows, you want to make sure the problem is getting better, not worse. A great way to do that is to take pictures or video of your child standing and walking over regular intervals—say every 4-6 months—and compare.
If you do notice intoeing or out-toeing that isn’t getting better, getting worse, or causing real problems for your child—pain, limping, clumsiness, delay development, etc.—then it may be time to pursue more aggressive treatment methodologies. These will be determined on a case-by-case basis; surgery is not usually recommended at least until the child is older (10 or so), but every situation is different.
At Family Foot and Ankle Center, the health and quality of life of you and your children is our top priority. For any foot and ankle problems or conditions you may experience in your family, give us a call and set up an appointment at one of our six Greater Cincinnati locations. You can reach us toll free at 888-689-3317.