Toe Walking

Toe walking refers to a condition where a person walks on his or her toes without putting much of their weight on the heel or any part of the foot. Toe walking in young children is common. These children usually adopt a normal walking pattern as they grow older. If a child continues to walk on their toes past the age of three, they should be evaluated by a doctor. Children "toe walk" occasionally when they are moving around a room by holding on to the furniture, especially if they're on a bare floor. Some kids keep toe walking, off and on, just for fun, generally, until age 3. Toe walking isn't something to be concerned about during the early years of your child’s life. And often, children who toe walk after that do so out of habit.

Talk To You Doctor If Your Child:
  • Walks on his or her toes most of the time.
  • Has stiff muscles.
  • Is Uncoordinated.
  • Walks awkwardly, stumbles, or has a waddling gait.
  • Seems as though they can't bear their weight on a flat foot.
  • Looses motor skills that they already had.
  • Has fine motor skills that don't seem to be developing normally.

What causes toe walking:

If your child always tiptoes, it is possible that he or she has a possible downside, such as a short Achilles Tendon, that prevents your child from standing flat-footed and limits their range of motion in the ankle. Consistent toe walking can be a sign of motor disorder. Most commonly a form of cerebral palsy.

There are several types of cerebral palsy. The most common is 'spastic" which suggest that the affected muscles are stiff. Children who are born prematurely have a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. Many premature infants experience hemorrhage in the brain, which damages the components of the brain that control movement. Sometimes an infection that a mother or a baby has during pregnancy also damages brain tissue and leads to cerebral palsy. And sometimes premature infants develop a condition called periventricular leukomalacia, which damages nerves in the brain that affect movement. Hemiplegia/hemiparesis, a form of cerebral palsy in which your child Achilles tendons are so tight that their heel are pulled up and their toes point down. Toe walking is also associated with language delays and autism, so it's important to be sure your child isn't having other problems with communication or socialization skills. You may want to schedule a development assessment to make sure. if your  child's doctor rules out cerebral palsy, autism, and other problems – if their muscle tone is fine, and they have a good range of motion in the ankle – then they will likely be diagnosed with what's called idiopathic toe walking. This is a catchall diagnosis which means that the cause is unknown, and it's likely your child walks on their toes out of habit.

What your doctor might suggest:

An assessment of your child's brain function and motor development is important to assist your child's doctor to understand the most effective course of treatment. early intervention is crucial because physical therapy or surgery can improve motor skills and muscle strength, and forstall harm to the muscles that have an effect on joint movement. If your child has a physical problem such as short tendon, treatment might begin with physical therapy that includes stretching.
Your child may also have to wear an (AFO)ankle-foot orthosis, which is a lightweight plastic brace that goes up the rear of the leg and maintains the foot at a 90 degree angle. It limits the ability of the child to walk on his or her toes, and stretches the Achilles Tendon. 
Another method referred to as casting is sometimes used. In this procedure. a series of casts stretch and lengthen the tendon and increases the range of ankle movement. The cast is changed weekly with progressive stretching. 
In some cases, surgery will be recommended.