Toe walking is a condition which involves walking on toes without putting pressure on the heels. This condition is frequently observed among toddlers, though these children adopt normal pattern of walking as they grow old. There are wide range of factors that are responsible for walking on the toes, though the condition can be managed effectively with exercises and simple remedies.
Treatment of walking on toes depends upon the underlying cause associated with the condition. Often a doctor would evaluate the child to understand the basic neurological functions and also understand if there is any local cause that is responsible for toe walking.
Causes Of Children Walking On Their Toes
The treatment of the condition often depends upon the cause of the condition and hence a thorough assessment and diagnosis is crucial. There are several factors that are responsible for toe walking,
- Habitual or idiopathic toe walking is caused due to unknown factors.
- A congenital anomaly which involves is short Achilles tendon (the tendon that connects the calf muscles to the base of the heel) is often considered to be a cause.
- In children with cerebral palsy, muscular spasticity is common which results in toe walking.
- Autism is also a common cause associated with toe walking.
- Toe walking is often observed as a compensatory technique of walking to a condition referred to as foot drop.
Toe Walking in Toddlers
Toe walking is very common among toddlers and there is a need to understand whether the toe walking is associated with some form of pathological problem. Toe walking in toddlers is considered normal especially if your child has just learned how to walk or is under the age of two years. Further, if the child walks normally when asked to, there is nothing to worry about.
Some psychologists believe that toe walking is a sensory seeking behavior which helps the child receives proprioceptive inputs, from the calf muscles which in turn helps them prepare better to play and learn. However, it is a cause of concern, if your child continues to walk on the toes beyond the age of two years, or walks on the toes most of the time or is associated with decreased coordination, decreased eye contact or decreased motor activity.
Treatment For Toe Walking
Often toe walking resolves after a particular age and children tend to grow out of the disorder. The best alternative is to wait and watch the progress of the child. However there are certain simple remedies that are available,
- In children with short Achilles tendon, using brace or splint is recommended during the day, to stretch the tendon and aid the child in walking normally. These splints and braces are referred to as ankle foot orthosis.
- Often casts can also be used to help the tendon stretch. Progressive casting is recommended on weekly basis to increase the stretch on the tendon.
- Often, excessive contraction of the calf muscles can result in overstretching of the Achilles tendon which may be responsible for toe walking. Botox therapy is considered beneficial as it causes partial paralysis of the calf muscles and helps reduce the stretch on the Achilles tendon.
- Surgical correction is recommended in patients who fail to respond to conventional treatment.