Why Early Treatment Is Essential in Kids With Clubfoot

doctor with mother and daughterClubfoot describes a condition where a child’s foot has developed abnormally. It’s a fairly common condition that can be corrected if treated promptly.

When your baby has clubfoot, one or both of their feet will be turned inwards at the ankle. The condition can range in severity from a gentle curve, to more severe cases where the feet curl upward.

Diagnosing and Treating Clubfoot

Clubfoot develops in the womb, making it difficult for orthopedic pediatricians to diagnose it or its severity when it first arises. Typically, a baby will be examined for signs of clubfoot and diagnosed at birth.

It’s critically important that treatment for clubfoot begin as soon as possible in a child’s life. Because a baby’s body is still highly flexible and growing at an accelerated rate, clubfoot treatments can work well in infancy.

If your infant is diagnosed with clubfoot, it’s crucial to start treatment right away while your baby’s bones, tendons and joints are still flexible.

There are two main types of treatments available for clubfoot in pediatric orthopedics, the Ponseti method and surgery.

Ponseti Treatment

Treatment involves stretching and bracing the legs so they grow in a more natural position. During weekly sessions, the child’s legs are stretched and manipulated into the correct position, then kept in place with a cast. This process is repeated weekly until the foot’s position is improved, typically between 6 to 8 weeks.

Because clubfoot has a tendency of recurring, babies undergoing Ponseti treatment also must brace their legs into the correct position for up to three years afterward.

Surgery

Sometimes clubfoot cannot be fully corrected with stretching, or it reappears despite other treatments. In these cases, surgery may be needed to adjust the tendons and ligaments in the foot and ankle.