Intoeing is also called or related to feet turning inwards, feet pointing inwards, pidgeon toed, legs turned inwards, knees pointing in, femoral anteversion, metatarsus adductus.
Intoeing is a very common presentation for young children, especially girls between the ages of 3 and 6 yrs old. Most intoeing is first noticed when kids stand and start walking for the first time.
There is quite a wide range of what is considered 'normal' when looking at the alignment of kids feet and legs. Children naturally have quite a 'straight' alignment with the feet generally pointing more straight ahead compared to adults whose feet angle slightly outwards on average. As kids grow older, the feet gradually turn outwards right up to about 10 years of age as their hip and leg alignment develops slowly.
Most intoeing reduces with time, however intoeing can cause problems such as tripping and falling. Simple things can be done to reduce tripping and falling and allow kids to develop their walking and running normally.
The process is for a podiatrist with experience in kids gait to assess the child to determine which part of the lower limb is contributing to the intoeing. The internal rotation of the femur at the hip is by far the most common cause of the feet pointing inwards when walking (femoral anteversion). Other common causes are the shin bones having a slight twist inwards (tibial torsion) as well as the forefoot being bent inwards. Sometimes it isn't the bone alignments causing the intoeing and tight muscles and ligaments need to be loosened to correct abnormal alignment.
Treatments include appropriate light weight shoes to reduce tripping, special 'gait plate' inserts to encourage the feet to turn outwards when walking and running, specific stretching and strengthening exercises to rebalance the muscles and ligaments.
As Sports Podiatrists with a special interest in active kids, we spend a lot of time checking the cause of the intoeing, asking a lot of questions to determine if the alignment is actually causing any problems and then explaining what to expect as the kids develop. Other times, we are putting simple plans in place to help kids run and jump better and keep up with their mates.