Serial casting in the treatment of idiopathic toe-walkers and review of the literature

Published online: Dec 27 2006

Anna Fox, Sue Deakin, Gill Pettigrew, Robin Paton

From Blackburn Royal Infirmary, Blackburn, United Kingdom


Idiopathic toe-walking is defined as persistent toe-walking in a normal child in the absence of developmental, neurological or neuromuscular conditions. True idiopathic toe-walking is a rare referral, representing approximately 1:100 new patients seen in the Paediatric Orthopaedic Clinic. A prospective study of idiopathic toe-walking (ITW) was organised between 1999 and 2003. Patients underwent full history, neurological examination and assessment of ankle dorsiflexion, followed by below-knee weight-bearing casting. Forty four developmentally normal children with no delay in walking age were in this study. There was an age range on presentation from 2 years to 14 years 4 months, with median 60.5 months. Sixty eight percent were male. Thirty four percent had a family history of the condition. Following casting, 66% of patients had improved gait on patient and clinician determined outcomes, with the majority of children ceasing to toe-walk. Ankle dorsiflexion significantly improved in those children who were successfully treated (p = 0.001).