Typically, toe walking is simply a habit that develops when a child learns to walk. In a few cases, toe walking is caused by an underlying condition, such as:
March 26, 2015
- A short Achilles tendon. This tendon links the lower leg muscles to the back of the heel bone. If it's too short, it can prevent the heel from touching the ground.
- Cerebral palsy. Toe walking can be caused by cerebral palsy — a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by injury or abnormal development in the parts of the immature brain that control muscle function.
- Muscular dystrophy. Toe walking sometimes occurs in muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease in which muscle fibers are unusually susceptible to damage and weaken over time. This diagnosis may be more likely if your child initially walked normally before starting to toe walk.
- Autism. Toe walking has also been linked to autism, a complex spectrum of disorders that affect a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.
- Oetgen ME, et al. Idiopathic toe walking. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. 2012;20:292.
- Engstrom P, et al. The prevalence and course of idiopathic toe-walking in 5-year-old children. Pediatrics. 2012;130:279.
- Williams CM, et al. The toe walking tool: A novel method for assessing idiopathic toe walking children. Gait & Posture. 2010;32:508.
- Cerebral palsy: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/detail_cerebral_palsy.htm. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Muscular dystrophy: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/md/detail_md.htm. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Autism fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm. Accessed March 2, 2015.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed March 2, 2015.