Does your child walk with his or her toes pointed inward? Do the knees sometimes appear to be bowed? This is known as "intoeing" and it's not uncommon in young children whose bones are still malleable and developing. It is caused by the thigh bones (femurs) twisting slightly inward, making the knees and toes turn more toward each other, in a condition known as femoral anteversion. Here is what you need to know as a parent about femoral anteversion.
What causes femoral anteversion?
Some parents worry that the shoes their child wears or the way their child sits is what leads to this condition. However, it's actually something kids are born with. In the past, doctors and parents worked to "straighten" the legs with casts or special shoes, and they prevented children from sitting in a W-shape to encourage normal leg development. Neither of these treatment methods are needed, so they are not prescribed today.
What treatments are available?
Kids with femoral anteversion will have noticeable intoeing for much of their young childhood (2–8 years old). But rarely is any additional intervention needed. Often, the bones tend to straighten themselves as your child grows toward adolescence. Cases range from mild to severe, and in very severe cases more intervention, like physical therapy, might be needed. Your doctor will want to monitor your child as he or she grows to make sure the bones are healthy and that they are slowly getting better instead of getting worse.
What happens when the condition does not improve?
In rare cases, femoral anteversion will not self-correct. However, if your child can walk, run, sit without pain, and participate normally in sports and other healthful activities, your doctor may still be comfortable with only observing the condition over time. But some children will need further medical treatment. The anteversion can become more severe during the growth of teenage development, and a few will find it impossible to walk without pain. In this case, surgery is needed to correct the twisted femur.
The surgical procedure involves cutting into the leg and cleanly fracturing the femur. The bone is manually turned to the correct position in the leg, and the break is reattached and secured with surgical pins. The legs can be corrected at the same time, or one at a time, depending on the needs of the patient. Full healing of the legs and regaining range of motion takes several months of and physical therapy.
For more information, talk to a professional like Ultimate Sports.