Have you ever noticed that your child seems to walk on his or her toes? While this is fairly normal for kids younger than two years old, some children do not outgrow it and may experience problems later in life.
By the time a child turns five, if you still notice constant toe walking, it might be time to seek a consultation with a pediatric foot care specialist.
At Foot + Ankle Specialty Centers, our providers, including Payam Sarraf, DPM, Kate Kennedy, DPM, Katy Statler, DPM, Andrew Goodeill, DPM, Christopher Van Damme, DPM, Amelia Harris, DPM, and Sina Safar, DPM, want to ensure everyone — young and old — feel comfortable on their feet. Dr. Sarraf specifically works with children to ensure long-term podiatric health.
When you notice your child walking on their toes, it can be a bit alarming at first. But, as previously stated, many children do it at an early age, and even those who continue past five years old will often outgrow the behavior.
Still, it’s always important to seek a diagnosis from a licensed provider. That is because, in very rare cases, toe walking can be associated with a few significant conditions, such as muscular dystrophy, spinal cord abnormalities, and certain neurological disorders.
Most of the time, children who don’t outgrow the behavior have a condition called idiopathic toe walking. It is believed to occur within 5% of children and has no known cause. It is not, however, usually a lifelong issue.
In most cases, toe walking is not an issue requiring extensive treatment. Once the cause has been diagnosed, your child might see improvement with any of the treatment options below.
Many children who walk on their toes don’t realize they’re doing it and are fully capable of correcting the behavior when reminded. If that is the case with your child, do so calmly and kindly when you notice they have tipped onto their toes, and you’ll likely see improvement over time.
If your child’s toe walking seems to be caused by tightness in their calves, physical therapy that involves stretching the calf and foot muscles might be helpful.
A special type of leg cast might be recommended for your child. The casts will help stretch the tendons and muscles, allowing them to more comfortably stand on their heels over time.
Children who do not see an improvement from casts — or who cannot wear them for another reason — might benefit from Botox injections. The injection is placed into the calf muscles to loosen the tightness and to make it easier for your child to walk normally.
Surgery is only used in cases when children continue to walk on their tiptoes past the age of five, can’t correct their behavior on their own, or don’t see benefits from the conservative treatments.
The procedure involves lengthening the Achilles tendon, followed by wearing casts and participating in physical therapy for several weeks after surgery. It is only used in the most severe cases. Fortunately, it’s an outpatient procedure, so your child can go home on the same day.
Though most children outgrow toe walking, we still recommend a diagnosis with one of our providers. We will be able to help you correct the problem.
To make an appointment at one of the Arizona locations, simply call or book online today! We’re always here to help you and your family gain comfort and peace of mind.