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What are pigeon toes?

Newborn baby feet

Pigeon toes, also known as in-toeing, is where a person's toes point inwards instead of straight ahead, which can affect them when they walk or run. It’s a common condition in children and, in some cases, it can persist into adulthood.

Causes of Pigeon Toes

The cause of this condition can be down to a variety of factors—including genetics, bone or muscle deformities, and neurological conditions. In can sometimes stem from the position the baby takes in the womb or from the way they’re delivered. If left untreated, the condition can lead to problems with the individual’s balance and posture, as well as causing pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of Pigeon Toes

The most obvious sign of pigeon toes is the inward position they take when the individual walks or runs. Other symptoms may include clumsiness, difficulty balancing, and frequent tripping or falling. In severe cases, pigeon toes can cause pain and discomfort in an individual’s feet, legs, hips, and lower back.

It’s difficult to spot in very young children, as they may place their feet in all sorts of positions and directions as they learn to walk, and also because it rarely causes them pain at this age. In the vast majority of cases, this seemingly unnatural inward positioning of the toes is something they simply grow out of. As they get a little older, however, and once they can walk, run and jump, etc., the condition will likely become more noticeable if present.

Remedies for Pigeon Toes

There are several remedies that can be applied to ease the pain and discomfort associated with pigeon toes. The first is to wear proper footwear that provides a decent level of support and brings stability to the feet. Shoes with a wide toe area can reduce pressure and allow the feet and toes to naturally spread out. Custom insoles can also help correct their alignment, which can reduce pain.

Physical therapy can also be an effective treatment. A physical therapist can work with the patient to develop a series of exercises that can help strengthen the muscles and improve their range of motion in the feet and legs. These exercises may include stretches, balance practice and strengthening exercises for the muscles in the feet and legs.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to combat the issue. This is typically only recommended in severe cases where other treatments have failed. Surgery may involve realigning the bones in the feet or legs, or correcting any muscle or tendon imbalances that are causing the problem.

Can Pigeon Toes be Cured?

In many cases, pigeon toes can be corrected with the proper treatment and care. However, the severity of the condition and the age of the patient can impact the effectiveness of treatment. Children who are diagnosed with pigeon toes early on may have a better chance of correcting it with less invasive treatments. In contrast, adults who have had the condition since childhood may require greater intervention, such as surgery, to (literally) set things straight.

It also helps to encourage children to engage in physical activity that promotes good posture and proper alignment of the feet and legs. It’s also important to ensure they wear shoes that fit properly, and which provide good support for their feet as they grow and develop.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of pigeon toes, come and have a chat with us to determine the most appropriate treatment. Our Wombwell clinic can be reached on 01226 492412 and our Morley clinic via 0113 238 0330.


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