As parents, we want the best for our children as they grow and develop. So it’s only natural to be concerned when a child’s feet don’t look quite right at birth. At Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists, we’re well known for our treatment of clubfoot deformity in young children, but it isn’t the only condition that can cause feet to look bent or twist. Metatarsus adductus, also known as intoeing, is another.
What Is Metatarsus Adductus?
In metatarsus adductus, the child’s forefoot is curved inward, with the “bend” occurring somewhere in the middle of the foot. The toes point inward, and there may be a bit of a “gap” between the largest and second largest digits. The heels and hindfoot, however, remain in proper alignment. This makes it very different from clubfoot, in which the entire foot is curved or angled.
About half of children with the metatarsus adductus have it in both feet. The exact cause is not known, although the position of the child in the womb likely plays a role.
Does Your Child Need Treatment?
Unlike clubfoot, which requires years of treatment and should begin very soon after birth, metatarsus adductus frequently requires no treatment at all. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, of course. However, much of the time, a flexible metatarsus adductus will slowly correct itself over the first few years of life as your child grows and gains practice using their feet.
However, not all cases will be self-correcting. If the forefoot is particularly rigid, or the problem isn’t getting better, the curved forefoot may persist into later childhood and even adulthood. Adult metatarsus adductus is much harder to treat and may lead to additional complications, including bunions, Jones fractures, ankle instability, osteoarthritis, hip pain, and more.
If you’re concerned with the appearance or lack of flexibility in your child’s foot, it’s always a smart idea to take them to see Dr. Spencer, Dr. Rodriguez or Dr. Nguyen at Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists. We are specialists in children’s foot care and help determine whether further treatment is needed, or only observation for the time being.
Treatment for Metatarsus Adductus
If your child does require treatment to straighten the front part of their foot, our team will develop an appropriate treatment plan. Success rates are extremely high, with the vast majority of kids growing up with straight feet and no significant developmental problems or complications.
Treatment may include:
- Stretching exercises for the feet, to be performed both in-office and at home.
- Splints or special shoes designed to hold the feet in proper alignment.
- Foot and leg casting. Casts will need to be changed every one to two weeks for a period of time, and should begin within the first year of life for best results.
- Surgery is rarely need, but sometimes necessary in extreme cases.
If your child’s toes point inward, please make an appointment with Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists for a consultation. Making sure your little ones grow up healthy and happy is our passion! You can call our Ladera Ranch, CA office at (949) 364-9255.