Toe walking in children is always a concern for parents. Children who walk normally for a period of time and then start to toe walk should be evaluated. A medical history, family history, gait evaluation, musculoskeletal examinations are necessary to determine the cause of toe walking. Toe walking can be attributed to:
- Equinus (tight calf muscle)
- Muscular dystrophies
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Spinal cord pathology
- Acquired contractures
- Cerebral palsy
If your child began toe walking from the first time they started walking you can try placing your child in high top shoes/boots with stiff soles. This prevents your child from being able to walk on their toes and their heel won’t slip out from the back. If toe walking persists, come see one of our physicians at Foot & Ankle Doctors, Inc. An ankle foot orthosis (AFO) may need to be custom fitted for your child. This device is a rigid plastic that runs from the foot all the way up to the back of the calf muscle. This prevents motion at the ankle and again, limits the child’s ability to walk on their toes. If the calf muscle is tight and is contributing to your child’s toe walking, physical therapy can be prescribed as a modality that will help stretch and strengthen the calf muscle.
If you notice your child toe walking come see us for a full evaluation of your child. It is important to rule out more serious causes of toe walking other than a tight calf muscle. It is helpful if you videotape your child toe walking to evaluate their gait pattern.