CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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:
- 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 immature brain, most often before or surrounding birth.
- 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 group of disorders that affect a child's ability to communicate and interact with others.
- Solan MC, et al. Idiopathic toe walking and contractures of the triceps surae. Foot Ankle Clinics of North America. 2010;15:297.
- Williams CM, et al. Idiopathic toe walking and sensory processing dysfunction. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 2010;3:16.
- 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 Jan. 23, 2012.
- JAMA patient page: Muscular dystrophy. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;306:2526.
- Autism fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm. Accessed Jan. 23, 2012.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed Jan. 23, 2012.