Parents often become concerned when they notice their child running awkwardly, being “pigeon toed” (also known as in-toeing), or when they repeatedly sprain their ankles. Your child my trip or fall more often than seems normal, you may notice them rolling their ankles inward (AKA excessive pronation), or their foot may have a “hooked appearance”. There are three conditions which can cause these problems and depending on which condition and the age of your child they may require intervention to correct. The good news is that serious interventions such as wearing leg braces or surgery are not usually needed in these cases.
1. Tibial torsion – This is fairly common condition where the tibia or “shin bone” has not rotated into the position where it will be during adulthood. Tibial torsion is considered normal until the age of 7 years. However excessive toe-in between 2 and 7 years my warrant consultation with a doctor. Your child may have excessive pronation seen by weight bearing on the big toe side of the foot much more than the pinky toe side.
What your Chiropractor can do – Your Chiropractor can adjust a subluxated (misaligned) joints in the legs and show you how to stretch the proper muscles while strengthening others. Your Chiropractor may also be able to fit your child with custom shoe orthotics to help correct the excessive pronation.
What you can do – Buy shoes with flexible soles and good arch support such as athletic shoes. Also, getting your child involved in sports or activities which emphasize running such as soccer will help to strengthen the muscles of the legs and provide good muscle length.
2. Femoral torsion – This is similar to tibial torsion except in this case the femur or “thigh bone” is the one that is out of position. This is another common condition that usually resolves on its own by 8 years of age. Again excessive pronation may be seen as well as bowing back of the knees and an excessive curve in the low back.
What your Chiropractor can do – Chiropractic treatment will be similar to that of tibial torsion, adjustments/stretching/strengthening only focusing on the hip instead of the knee and lower leg.
What you can do – Again good shoes are in order. Sports in this case should include those that work out the hips such as bicycling, ballet, or gymnastics. Also, encouraging your child to sit cross legged will stretch the muscles holding the leg in a toe-in position.
3. Metatarsus adductus – This one is a little different than the other two in that it involves the feet instead of the legs. In this case the toe-in occurs in the foot itself. This condition is normal until 1 year of age is a common problem in school age children.
What your Chiropractor can do – Adjusting will focus on the bones of the feet and orthotics may be used if the problem persists beyond 7 years of age
What you can do – Gently stretching your child’s foot toward the pinky toe several times a day will help to loosen up the tight tissues.
In all cases, it is important to ensure your children’s shoes are well-fitting with plenty of room and no stress points. Also, having your child go barefoot more often encourages better motor control and position sense.
A note on Chiropractic adjustments: Many doctors, including those at Fletcher Hills Chiropractic use low-force techniques such as Activator technique that are much more gentle and less intimidating for children. Ask your Chiropractor what techniques he uses.
This article by a San Diego Chiropractor is a review of an article from the March 12th issue of Dynamic Chiropractor by Dr. Mark Charrette. Read the entire article here Dynamic Chiropractor