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Musculoskeletal Disorders: Feet


Two of the most common conditions to effect children's feet are flat feet and pigeon toes .

  • Flat feet . This refers to the inside arch at the bottom of the foot. This arch is usually present when the child's feet are off the ground, but it flattens and disappears once the child begins to walk and bear weight. This shifts the child's weight from the side of the foot to the middle, but rarely causes problems in walking. Flat feet are fairly normal in infants and toddlers. Flat feet in older children, for example over age 6, is usually an inherited characteristic and tends to run in families.
  • Pigeon toes . Also referred to as intoeing. Here the child's toes point inward when walking or, sometimes, even at rest. Intoeing can be caused by many different types of leg and foot problems, including abnormal rotation of the leg bones (either internal tibial torsion or femoral anteversion) or an abnormal curvature of the foot ( metatarsus adductus ).

Symptoms and Signs

  • Flat Feet. Most children with flat feet have no symptoms. The child's bare feet can be checked for an arch at the bottom of the feet at rest, i.e. off the ground, or the child's footprints while walking barefoot can be checked.
  • Pigeon Toes. For pigeon toes, check for toes that point inward abnormally when the child walks. Also, check for an abnormal C-shape to the bottom of the foot.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Flat feet and pigeon toes are generally not of concern unless the child is having problems walking or complains of pain anywhere in the legs or feet. If a child's feet or legs curve abnormally inward or outward, a doctor should be consulted.

  • Flat Feet. Treatment is usually not indicated. Symptoms associated with vigorous physical activity can be treated with medical longitudinal arch supports. Custom-made arch supports or orthopaedic shoes are usually not necessary.
  • Pigeon Toes. Pigeon toes can be caused by several different problems in the child's legs or feet. Some of these problems are fairly common and require no treatment unless your child is having frequent falls. But serious metatarsus adductus needs to be treated with serial casting, possibly beginning as early as 2 months.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1., Children's Health Section:

Other HON resources 
   From MedHunt

Foot disorders
Flat feet
Pigeon toes
    From HONselect
     (def;articles & more)   

Foot Deformities:
University of Utah

Foot Diseases

    Recent articles

Foot Deformities
Foot Diseases


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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002