Metatarsus adductus is a relatively common foot deformity seen in infants and young children, characterized by the forefoot of one or both feet being turned inward. It can cause an angular appearance that may resemble that of a ‘rocker-bottom’ foot – hence its alternate name. Additional symptoms may include ingrown toenails, discomfort while wearing shoes, heel pain, and trouble fitting into shoe sizes due to a wider-than-normal forefoot area.
Treatment usually consists of stretching exercises and sometimes special footwear to correct this delicate condition, as early intervention allows for improvements with age. It is a condition that typically originates from the baby’s positioning inside the uterus. Fortunately, in most cases, it can be easily managed with stretching and strength training, as well as appropriate footwear for growth. However, more severe instances may require casting or surgical assistance to permanently put things back into place. Early diagnosis is important for successfully managing metatarsus adductus, as treatment options are more effective when performed before skeletal maturity.
Common treatments for this condition include physical therapy techniques such as stretching exercises for dorsiflexion (pointing toes up) and plantarflexion (pointing toes down), shoe modifications such as custom orthotics and supportive soles with prominent heel reinforcements, and bracing devices like flexible ankle-foot orthoses (FAFOs). In rare cases, surgical intervention may be recommended. If left untreated, complications such as gait abnormalities can result over time. To prevent these complications from occurring, parents must seek medical attention if they suspect their child has metatarsus adductus so that appropriate treatment can begin promptly.