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Toe walking

Newcastle Podiatry - Friday, March 13, 2015

Why does my toddler always walk on tip toes? Is this a problem?

Toe walking is not just as simple as a child choosing to walk on tip toes – often it's a sign of an underlying physiological or neurological condition, so getting to the root of the cause is important.

Physical issues
Toe walking can be caused by physiological reasons, where the child's heel simply can't make contact with the ground due to growth and a tightness of the calf muscle, or a congenital shortening of the muscle. Most children grow out of it as they get older. But if they're unable to walk on their entire foot, there can be an underlying neuromuscular issue. Our podiatrists will work with other specialists to diagnose what this cause may be before devising an appropriate treatment.

Spectral issues
Some children are physiologically able to walk normally but resist the urge. If that is the case, it is possible to explore the possibility of cognitive disabilities or disorders, such as autism spectrum. Often seen with this is a tactile sensitivity around the foot which may manifest as an unwillingness to wear shoes or complaint when walking on uneven surfaces.

Sometimes toe walking is a result of a child experiencing trauma to the foot, such as a foot fracture or burn, so they may walk on their toes to reduce the pain. It's important podiatrists help such children, as prolonged toe walking can lead to them having a reduced range of motion.

No reason
Some children walk on their toes for no explainable reasons, which in medical speak is called "idiopathic". In this case, your podiatrist will use a number of strategies, including stretching techniques and fun exercises to do at home to teach them to walk normally. This may also include night splinting and prescription functional foot orthotics.

The first step in treating toe walking is to determine the cause so you're your podiatrist and healthcare team can promptly treat it. The earlier we can help your child learn to walk correctly, through thorough biomechanical examination and diagnosis the better the long term outcomes.

If you have any such concerns please call our team to make an appointment.

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