Walking on toes or the balls of the feet is fairly common in children who are learning to walk. Most children outgrow it.
Walking on the toes or the balls of the feet, also known as toe walking, is fairly common in children who are just beginning to walk. Most children outgrow it.
Kids who continue toe walking beyond the toddler years often do so out of habit. As long as your child is growing and developing normally, toe walking is unlikely to be a cause for concern.
Toe walking sometimes can result from certain conditions, including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and autism spectrum disorder.
Toe walking is walking on the toes or the ball of the foot.
If your child is still toe walking after age 2, talk to your doctor about it. Make an appointment sooner if your child also has tight leg muscles, stiffness in the Achilles tendon or a lack of muscle coordination.
Typically, toe walking is a habit that develops when a child learns to walk. In a few cases, toe walking is caused by an underlying condition, such as:
Toe walking out of habit, also known as idiopathic toe walking, sometimes runs in families.
Persistent toe walking can increase a child's risk of falling. It can also result in a social stigma.
Toe walking can be observed during a physical exam. In some cases, the doctor may do a gait analysis or an exam known as electromyography (EMG).
During an EMG, a thin needle with an electrode is inserted into a muscle in the leg. The electrode measures the electrical activity in the affected nerve or muscle.
If the doctor suspects a condition such as cerebral palsy or autism, he or she may recommend a neurological exam or testing for developmental delays.
If your child is toe walking out of habit, treatment isn't needed. He or she is likely to outgrow the habit. Your doctor might simply monitor your child's gait during office visits.
If a physical problem is contributing to toe walking, treatment options might include:
If the toe walking is associated with cerebral palsy, autism or other problems, treatment focuses on the underlying condition.
You'll probably first bring your concerns to the attention of your primary care provider — family doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant or pediatrician. He or she might refer you to a doctor specializing in nerve function (neurologist) or orthopedic surgery.
Before your appointment, you might want to write a list of questions for the doctor, including:
Your doctor is likely to ask some of the following questions:
October 2nd, 2021