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Chiropractic Care for Pigeon Toe

Published Date: 
September 19, 2023
Categories:
Child with pigeon toes wearing orange sneakers.

Pigeon toes are one of the most common childhood health issues. It’s rarely serious, but it can affect a child’s development. If it does not correct itself as the child ages, it can cause discomfort. 

The good news is chiropractic care can help with pigeon toes. Your chiropractor can customize treatment based on the cause of pigeon toes and help you make the best choices for your child about using orthotics and other issues that can correct pigeon toes.

Conditions That Cause Pigeon Toe or In-Toeing in Kids

The most common causes of pigeon toes in children include:

Femoral anteversion

Femoral anteversion occurs when someone has an inward twist of the thigh bone (femur). The femur is between the hip and knee, so it’s easy to see how the twist would affect the position of the feet. Most of the time, femoral anteversion is diagnosed when a child is between four and six years of age, although sometimes parents notice an issue when their child is learning to walk. It causes their toes to point inward and have a few additional challenges when they walk.

Feet of a girl with pigeon toes wearing bright pink sneakers.

Metatarsus adductus 

Metatarsus adductus is a deformity of the foot. When this occurs, the front half of the foot points inward. In most cases, it develops as a result of the position of the baby inside the uterus. If the feet are bent inward as the baby develops, it can affect their instep after birth. In most cases, the problem resolves independently, but sometimes exercises are needed to correct the problem.

Internal tibial torsion   

Internal tibial torsion occurs when the tibia is inward twisting, the large bone in the lower leg. The twisting of the tibia can cause pigeon toes. 

In most cases, this issue won’t be noticeable until a child begins walking, but the condition can be present at birth. It usually affects both legs. This, too, could develop due to the baby’s position in the uterus. The condition is rarely painful, but it does put a child at a greater risk of tripping and falling.

How a Chiropractor Can Help

Many cases of pigeon toes resolve on their own as a child grows. However, in more severe cases, it can affect a child’s walking and ability to participate in sports. Even if it clears up on its own, it puts your child at a greater risk of injury as they learn to walk and run.

The good news is there are safe, all-natural ways to correct pigeon toe. Chiropractic is one of the best options. Additionally, chiropractors can provide nutrition recommendations and at-home exercises that promote a child's healthy development and overall well-being.

Chiropractic Treatments & Exercises for Kids with Pigeon Toe

Treatment is based on the cause of pigeon toes. For example:

Tibial Torsion

In the case of tibial torsion, the chiropractor adjusts the subluxation in the tibial bones. You’ll also learn stretches to help your child stretch the appropriate muscles in the area to help with the adjustment. Participating in specific exercises or athletic activities such as soccer or running is also helpful.

In some cases, customized orthotics are needed. These are worn inside your child’s shoes to correct the excessive inward turning of the toes. Choosing shoes for your child that offer good arch support is also essential.

Femoral Torsion

When a child’s pigeon toes are caused by femoral torsion, chiropractors can correct the problem by stretching and strengthening the hip. Participating in sports that work the areas, such as ballet, gymnastics, and biking, can also help.

In-office, chiropractors use stretching, strengthening, and the low-force activator method to correct the problem.

Metatarsus Ductus

This issue affects the foot. Chiropractic adjustments focus on the foot. In some cases, an orthotic is needed if the problem is not resolved by the time a child turns seven.

Left untreated, pigeon toes affect foot movement and mechanics. It can cause long-term problems, even if it is not painful or does seem like a big deal when your child is young.

Can Pigeon Toe Be Corrected in Adults?

In some cases, pigeon toes continue into adulthood. There is a higher risk of this occurring if pigeon toes go untreated in childhood.

Often, pigeon toes in adulthood occur when there is a structural anatomy problem, such as in the pelvis. Most doctors recommend surgery for adults with pigeon toes, but in some cases, the problem can be corrected or managed with chiropractic care.

Young woman with pigeon toe wearing flip flops with brightly painted toenails.

Occasionally, pigeon toes cause pain or discomfort. This is more common in adult cases. Pain can include:

  • Calf muscle tightness
  • Knee pain
  • Aching along the outer edge of the feet

Most cases of pigeon toes are discovered when a child learns to walk and are rarely painful. In most cases, it works out on its own. However, it’s essential to consult with your child’s pediatrician or a chiropractor about the problem. Pigeon toes put children at a greater risk of clumsiness which can lead to injury.

If pigeon toes continue into adolescence or adulthood, it can weaken the hips and leg muscles. Using exercises to strengthen these muscles can counteract the discomfort that sometimes accompanies adult pigeon toes.

Although you might not be able to correct pigeon toes once you reach adulthood without surgery, strengthening the muscles can help you live pain-free with the issue.

Can Chiropractic Care Benefit Adults with Pigeon Toe?

Chiropractic care is beneficial for adults with pigeon toes. If the condition persists into adulthood, you should schedule a consultation to discuss your options with a chiropractor. 

Chiropractor adjusting a female patient's foot.

Chiropractors can use exercises and gait training to manage adult pigeon toes. Stretching the tight lower muscles and strengthening the hip and leg muscles often lessens pigeon toes.

Other options include wearing casting or braces or undergoing surgery. Ideally, chiropractic care will help you avoid surgery. Your chiropractor can help you choose customized orthotic products to reduce the chances that you will need surgery. However, if this doesn’t work, surgery to correct a structural deformity of the shin bone might be recommended.

Conclusion

Pigeon toes, especially when the issue arises in childhood, are rarely a problem. Most children don’t experience pain or discomfort, which might make learning to walk or run more challenging. Using chiropractic care to treat pigeon toes in childhood or adulthood is a safe and effective option for those who want to avoid surgery.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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