When it comes to pediatric orthopedics, toe walking is one of the more common issues parents face. Toe walking occurs in younger children who are just learning to walk. With a normal gait, a person begins with their foot on the ground. They will then put their heel on the ground, and start rolling their foot forward, landing on the toes to push off as the last step. With children who are toe walking, they skip the part where their heel hits the ground, and instead land directly on their toes. Here is more information about toe walking and how you can correct it.

Toe Walking in Toddlers

When children are toddler-aged, they are just learning to walk. Walking is a big step and can take time to learn. It is not uncommon for younger children to start walking on their toes, but they usually develop a proper gait eventually. It is not a concern unless your child is starting to get older and out of the toddler phase but is still refusing to walk on their heels. Your doctor will most likely want to make sure there is not another medical reason for toe walking beyond this age before starting different types of treatments.

Conditions That Lead to Toe Walking

Ruling out other potential causes for toe walking is the first course of action prior to treatment. While toe walking is very common among younger children, it can be worrisome if they still refuse to walk on their heels. Your child's toes can begin getting sore, causing them to stop walking altogether due to this discomfort. Some common conditions that might lead to toe walking that does not improve on its own are autism, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and Duschenne disease.

The First Stage of Treatment

Most doctors will advise parents not to do anything if their child is still young and toe walking. This is not abnormal, and premature treatment is unnecessary. However, if they are past the toddler age and still toe walking, it might be time to discuss ways to encourage them to walk with a normal gait. Nonsurgical treatments are usually all that is needed if they have no other medical conditions leading to their gait.

Simple physical therapy treatments are a good place to start, which includes stretching and gentle exercises. Your child might also get casting done, which helps to give them a constant stretch and loosen their heel cord. Some doctors are also helping to relax calf muscles with botulinum toxin, which is found in cosmetic injections.

Surgical Treatments

While it is rare that a child would need surgical treatment for a persistent toe walking habit, it is sometimes necessary. The main surgery procedure needed is one that lengthens the heel cord if it is too tight and stretching didn't help. There are a few different techniques used for this surgery, though they usually involve lengthening the Achilles tendon. This will force the child to land heel-first before using their toes when walking.

For more information, speak with professionals like Northern Care Inc Orthotics & Prosthetics.