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What is intoeing?

Intoeing is a term used for toes that point inward. There are several different causes of intoeing. It is common in babies and young children.

“Pigeon-toed” is a term is sometimes used to refer to intoeing.

What is the cause?

Intoeing observed in children less than 2 years old is most often caused by a shinbone (one of the bones in the lower leg) that is turned in. This condition, called tibial torsion, may be caused by the baby’s position in the mother’s womb before birth.

For children over 2 years old, the most common cause is a thighbone (the bone in the upper leg) that is turned in at the hip. This condition, also present from birth, causes the knees, feet, and toes to point inward.

A child may also have intoeing if the front part of the foot turns in. This is usually a problem discovered at birth.

How is it diagnosed?

Your child's provider will examine your child and be able to find the cause of intoeing by looking at the feet and legs.

How is it treated?

Most children do not need treatment. Usually intoeing gets better on its own. When it is caused by a shinbone that turns inward, it usually gets better once the child starts standing and walking. If it is caused by a thighbone turned in at the hip, the main treatment is simply having the child not cross his or her legs. The problem usually gets better when children start school and have to sit in chairs.

If there is a problem with the foot, sometimes special shoes can help straighten the foot. In severe cases, your child’s healthcare provider may put a cast on the child’s feet and lower legs. Casts are usually put on children before 8 months of age. In rare cases surgery is needed.

How can I take care of my child?

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:

  • What activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.

How can I help prevent intoeing?

Because intoeing is something children are born with, there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-01-16
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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