It may be awhile before your toddler is walking around the rolling hills of Harold Parker State Forest, but they are on their way by taking those first steps. Most children don’t start off with a normal gait; in fact, many have gait issues at the beginning. Many of these “issues” will simply correct themselves, but what if they don’t? Should you be worried?
There are several gait issues that are fairly common:
- In-toeing: This is typically the result of being in a cramped position while in the womb. Sometimes the hips don’t open up the way they’re supposed to, which can lead to a bit of a funny gait. It can also be because of a curvature of the foot that will spontaneously correct itself.
- Out-toeing: Again, being in a tight position while in the womb usually causes this. Splints, taping, and braces will not fix this condition. It will usually fix itself by age 3 or 4 with no lasting damage. Out-toeing may be the result of a neurological disorder, so it’s very important to rule that out. Surgery is not usually considered before age 10 because of the likelihood that it will spontaneously correct itself.
- Toe walking: If your child constantly walks on their toes, it may be because their calf muscles are too tight. It could also be a neuromuscular disorder, such as cerebral palsy, so make sure a correct diagnosis is made. In this case, casting, physical therapy and surgery are all viable treatment options.
- Flat feet: Having flat feet is completely normal in small children. Arches don’t usually develop until early childhood. There is nothing to worry about unless your child’s arches never develop AND they complain of pain. There are exercises and stretches you can have them do to build up the strength in their calves. Orthotic devices may also provide some benefits to your child.
It’s understandable that you might be concerned about your child’s gait abnormalities. We are here to answer any of your questions and to help with treatment if need be. Call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to make an appointment in our North Andover, MA office.