We know that sometimes parents—especially new ones—quickly become concerned when their child’s feet or lower limbs don’t seem to be quite right. Two of the biggest issues in this regard tend to be intoeing and flatfeet. Knowing a bit about child foot development can help to put fears and worries to rest.
Starting with intoeing (also known as “pigeon-toed”), this fairly common condition appears as a result of in utero development. There are essentially three causes of intoeing—metatarsus adductus, tibia torsion, and femoral anteversion—that are related to how a fetus’ feet or legs are positioned.
With metatarsus adductus, the feet are bent inwards and form a half-moon shape from the toes to the midfoot. In tibia torsion, the tibia (larger of the two lower leg bones) is twisted inward. Femoral anteversion is a similar condition, except that the femur (thighbone) is twisted.
As children mature physically, they usually grow out of any of these intoeing issues, without the need for treatment.
Flatfoot is another common concern, but understanding the development process for foot arches will often alleviate any worries. What you will see is that there are many times where a lack of foot arch is completely normal.
Foot arches are often not present when a child is born. Parents who expect to see them right away can find relief in the fact that pads of fat obscure the infantile arches. Additionally, arches tend to not even begin development until as late as three years of age.
Once a child is in the age range of 3 to 8 years, arches still might not be seen when a child is standing or otherwise placing body weight on his or her feet. This is also not usually a cause for concern because arches do not completely develop until around age 8. During this time, arches that only become visible when a child stands on tiptoe or is sitting with his or her legs dangling is a condition we call “flexible flatfoot.”
Most cases of intoeing and flexible flatfoot do not cause painful symptoms and/or will resolve themselves in time, but McDowell Orthopedics & Podiatry Group is here to help your child if this is not the case. Additionally, our Sacramento, CA office provides comprehensive child foot care services. You can get more information about our practice by calling (916) 961-3434, or you can connect with us online to schedule an appointment today.