Idiopathic toe-walking

S D Med. 2008 Feb;61(2):53, 55-7.


Idiopathic toe-walking is a diagnosis of exclusion when a child presents with bilateral toe-to-toe gait. Although toe-walking is considered part of the normal gait spectrum in development, it is abnormal when persisting past the age of two. Toe-walking may be caused by cerebral palsy, congenital contracture of the Achilles tendon or paralytic muscular disorders such as Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Idiopathic toe-walking may be associated with developmental disorders such as autism or other myopathic or neuropathic disorders. The majority of disorders causing toe-walking can be ruled out through the history and physical examination, resulting in a diagnosis of idiopathic toe-walking. However, it may be difficult to differentiate mild forms of cerebral palsy, specifically mild spastic diplegia, and idiopathic toe-walking. The treatment options for idiopathic toe-walking include observation, conservative methods and surgical methods. Most children can be treated in the primary care setting with either observation or conservative treatment. Patients with severe contracture of the Achilles tendon, or persistent toe-walking, may need surgical intervention. The prognosis of idiopathic toe-walking is favorable with both conservative and surgical treatment allowing children to attain normal function and range of plantarflexion. The following article provides an overview of the background information, differential diagnosis and treatment options for idiopathic toe-walking.

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Contracture
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / diagnosis*
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / physiopathology
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Toes*
  • Walking*