Medical Library

Limb Deformities

Limb DeformitiesA normal baby's legs and feet will naturally change in shape and size during the toddler stage and the grade school years. These developmental changes almost always occur on schedule and without problems.

Flat Feet
Many infants appear to have flat feet due to the "baby fat" that covers the sole's natural arch. A more prominent arch usually reveals itself as the child grows. Some children have persistent flat feet as they grow. These are usually painless and require no treatment. Treatment of painless flat feet by orthotics (inserts) or surgery is extremely uncommon.

Bowed Legs and Knock Knees
Most infants are born with slightly bowed legs as a result of their positioning inside the womb. After a few years, the legs usually straighten out and may even turn inward a bit, causing a knock-kneed appearance. Then the knock-kneed appearance gives way to the characteristically straight-legged appearance of a mature adult.

Bowed legs and knock knees usually correct themselves by the time the child reaches adolescence. Very rarely will a child require braces or surgery.

In-Toeing and Out-Toeing
Some children have toes that point inward or outward instead of straight ahead.

If the in-toeing occurs in the feet during infancy, it is sometimes possible to reverse the condition by gently stretching and manipulating the feet under the guidance of a physician. Corrective shoes or a cast may also help.

In-toeing that occurs at the ankle or knee is usually a normal part of growth and development and treatment is almost never required.

Out-toeing usually occurs from turning out of the legs or hips. This usually requires no treatment.the hip. Postural positions that discourage out-toeing may help reverse the problem.

In-toeing and out-toeing rarely require surgical correction unless accompanied by a more serious underlying orthopaedic condition.

Other Limb Deformities
Some children have more serious limb deformities that present at birth , occur with development, or are associated with trauma or infection. Treatment may include bracing, orthotics, or surgery to reconstruct the limbs and correct the deformity.

Back to Medical Library

To learn more about pediatric orthopaedic conditions, please refer to the following organizations:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Musculoskeletal Tumor Society

Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America