Tiptoeing in Children

Given the rancorous nature of the 2016 election season, and just the general complexity of family relationships, we bet there was a fair amount of topic avoidance at the Thanksgiving table this year.

“Don’t bring up the election!”

“If Grandpa mentions your hair, just change the subject!”

All that energy spent worrying about and tiptoeing around sensitive issues can be exhausting!

Children who spend time tiptoeing around – literally walking on their toes – is another issue, and only sometimes is it something to worry about.

When toe-walking is normal

A lot of babies begin walking on their toes, and there are several reasons why:

  1. They inherited the tendency. About 30% of toe walkers have family members who also do or did walk on their toes.
  2. They have an issue with a muscle or muscles – a very tight calf muscle or a short Achilles tendon, for example
  3. Toe-walking just feels good to them, for no apparent reason. When there’s no apparent reason for a child choosing to walk on his toes, doctors would call it “idiopathic” toe walking, a word of Greek origin that means “a disease of its own kind.” Parents might call it a bad habit, and if that’s all it is, then sometimes just instructing the child to walk by landing on his heel will break him of the habit.

When it’s something to worry about

Very often, toe-walking simply stops on its own or with gentle parental reminders. But if your child doesn’t stop walking on his toes by about age 3, it’s time to consult a professional. Bring your child to Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey of Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland for a full evaluation. We can identify bio-mechanical or anatomical issues and recommend the proper treatment for your child’s individual case.

Treatments for toe-walking may include

  • physical therapy to correct muscle imbalances
  • braces and casts that can stretch tight muscles or correct mechanical issues of the foot and ankle
  • orthotic inserts
  • surgery to lengthen muscles- a last resort

Occasionally, toe-walking in children can indicate a neurological disorder such as autism. But before you jump to any conclusions, contact us for expert foot care for children. Chances are we can help stop the tiptoeing around with treatment right here in our state-of-the-art podiatry office in Solon. Call us at (440) 903-1041.