Club Feet

What are ClubFeet and How is it Treated?

Clubfeet or Clubfoot is a fairly common orthopedic deformity in children. Parents will know if their child has a clubfoot immediately upon birth as the deformity is usually quite obvious. Clubfeet can even often be diagnosed prior to birth, as they may be apparent in an ultrasound. The unmistakable characteristic of the clubfoot is the foot appears to be turned sideways, in extreme cases it may even appear upside down so it looks like the top of the foot is where the bottom should be. If it is only in one foot, that foot will appear shorter than the other one. Clubfeet are usually not painful for the infant, but if left untreated they can cause severe problems later in life with futher pain.

Pediatric Orthopedic specialists are still not sure what causes clubfeet. There is a genetic factor as clubfoot does run in families. However to date no exact gene has been isolated that causes clubfeet and all cases cannot be traced to family inheratence.

Pediatric Orthopedics treatment for Clubfoot

There are both surgical and less invasive treatments for clubfeet. Usually non-surgical casting methods are used by pediatric orthopedic surgeons first. The earlier such interventions are taken the better the outcomes, and the less likely the need for surgery. Dr. David Stewart of Children's Bone & Spine Surgery of Nevada says that over the past 10 to 15 years, correcting clubfeet without surgery has become more and more effective. Doctor Stewart says this is primarily due to a technique of stretching and casting known as the Ponseti method. Dr. Stewart and his partners specialize in the technique, which involves stretching the foot to the right position, placing it a cast, and then repeating the process every week for several weeks. Once correction has been achieved using the Ponseti method, the infant usually will need to wear a brace at night for the next three years to insure that the correction holds.

From time to time stretching and bracing is not enough to obtain or maintain correction of your child’s clubfeet. In this case you will need to call upon a skilled pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Surgery for clubfoot usually involves lengthening the tendons and ligaments of the foot and ankle. Surgery for clubfeet is usually performed between 9 and 12 months of age. After surgery your child may still need to wear braces or special shoes for a number of years.

Understand that either correction method will not result in a foot that is “perfect”. The foot and calf that was clubbed may still be somewhat smaller than opposite normal foot. However without treatment, clubfeet will result in a severe disability as an adult. But with effective pediatric orthopedic treatment your child will be able to run and play and grow normally just like every other child.

 

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