Walking (Gait) Abnormalities | Diagnosis & Treatments

How does a doctor diagnose gait abnormality?

Your child's doctor will carefully observe your child as he or she walks or runs.

Other diagnostic procedures may include:

  • X-ray: A diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. This test is done to rule out any associated abnormalities of the spinal cord and nerves.
  • Computerized Tomography Scan (also called a CT or CAT scan): A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called "slices"), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays

How Boston Children’s Hospital treats gait abnormalities

Many gait disturbances are common and correct themselves on their own. When they do require medical assistance, Boston Children's Hospital has trained specialists to offer your child the right type of intervention.

For these conditions, we offer:

Tibial torsion

  • A brace may be used at night in children 18 to 30 months of age.
  • Your child's doctor may consider surgery if the problem has caused significant walking problems and your child at least 8 years old.

Femoral torsion

  • Your child's doctor may consider surgery if the problem causes a lot of tripping and an unsightly gait, and your child is at least 9 years old.

Metatarsus adductus

  • Treatment usually involves special exercises, applying casts or special corrective shoes, and has a high rate of success in babies aged 6 to 9 months


  • After age 3, if your child walks on his or her toes, they need careful evaluation by a physician.
  • Treatment may involve observation, physical therapy, casting, or surgery.