Toe Walking (Pediatric Equinus)

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Toe Walking (Pediatric Equinus)

Does your child walk on their tiptoes?

Toe walking is very common in young children, who are 3 years old and younger. However, in children 5 years old and older, walking on tiptoes is not normal and could be associated with some type of neurological immaturity or medical condition. Some medical professionals and many parents are not aware of all of the different conservative interventions that a podiatrist uses for treating toe walking. Read about the Symptoms, Causes, and Various Treatment options offered by Pediatric Podiatrists (Children’s Foot Specialist and Doctor).

Walking on the ball of the foot or toes, which is also referred to as toe walking, is something that is fairly common in children just learning to walk. This is something that most children outgrow. Children who continue to walk on their tiptoes or ball of their feet past their toddler years frequently do it simply out of habit. This by itself, as long as your child is developing and growing normally, usually isn’t anything you need to be concerned about.

Cameron began toe walking at around the age of two. After following the foot physical therapies and exercises recommended by their pediatrician with little to no improvement, she decided something needed to be done.

Watch the rest of Cameron’s story and their experience with Dr. Jarman with Pediatric Foot & Ankle.

Why Do Children Walk on Their Toes?

When children first learn to walk, it’s very common for them to walk on their toes. Sometimes, though, toe walking indicates one of the following conditions:

  • An Achilles tendon that’s too short
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Heel pain, particularly from Sever’s disease
  • Muscular dystrophy, although this diagnosis typically occurs before the child reaches walking age

Toe Walking Diagnosis

When you take your child to the pediatric podiatrist, the doctor will take your child’s medical history and perform an examination. Be prepared to answer the following questions: Young child walking on tiptoe
  • How long has your child been walking?
  • When did your child begin toe walking?
  • Is the toe walking a new development?
  • Can your child walk on his or her heels?
  • Is there a family history of toe walking?
  • Does your child have any medical issues?
  • Was your child born prematurely?
In addition to asking these questions, the podiatrist watches your child walk. He or she then performs a physical exam to determine range of motion and gauge muscle tone. They may also conduct an electromyography (EMG) test to measure responses in the affected muscle. Finally, if conditions like autism or cerebral palsy are suspected, your doctor may order neurological testing.

Treating Toe Walking

Toddler standing on tiptoes on a wooden deckChildren who simply toe walk out of habit do not require treatment. They usually outgrow the habit eventually. However, if your pediatric podiatrist determines a physical issue is causing the toe walking, treatment may include:
  • Physical therapy exercises to strengthen and stretch muscles in the legs and feet
  • Leg braces or a splint to correct gait
  • Serial below-the-knee casting to properly align the toes to the shin
If conservative treatment fails, your podiatrist may recommend surgery, but only as a last resort. Typically, this only occurs if there is an issue with the Achilles tendon or calf muscles.

Your child’s feet are designed for life

Make an appointment today if your child has Pediatric Toe Walking.