Clubfoot is a known birth defect that is easily identifiable by the feet twisted in an awkward position. Clubfoot was documented as far back as 400 BC by Hippocrates. Ultrasound can detect it during pregnancy, and it can accompany other diseases, or it can appear alone.
Clubfoot affects one out every 1000 newborns, and it shows up more in boys than girls. The condition can be minor or severe, and can affect either feet, or just one.
The main objective of clubfoot treatment is to change the position of the foot and make sure it is aligned correctly. By doing this early enough, once a baby can walk, there shouldn’t be any major problems.
Here are some common treatment methods:
- Cast – In milder cases, a cast can be applied. Your podiatrist will usually change this every couple of weeks until the foot is correctly aligned. Cast treatment can also be used on the legs and feet. It’s usually more successful when it is done immediately during the first week after birth. After that, the cast is usually replaced every two weeks.
- Ponseti Method – The Ponseti Method is one of the most popular methods used to treat clubfeet. The primary treatment can last up to eight weeks and consists of a combination of stretching the affected foot and castings. The Ponseti Method has at least a 90% success rate.
- Ilizarov Frame – The Ilizarov frame has been used in the U.S. since the early 1980s. An orthopedic surgeon must fit the frame, which consists of two metal rings that are wrapped around the affected leg, and wires are used to connect the rings to the bone. Rods are used to help stretch and shape the foot. This device normally needs to be fitted and adjusted for a couple of months. Although it’s not as popular, it still produces good results.
- Operation – In more severe cases, an operation is necessary to correct the position of the foot.
If looked at early, clubfoot can be treated successfully. Children, who are affected can then walk and have a better quality of life. If your child is born with clubfoot, you need to see a podiatrist immediately.