When it comes to a child’s health and safety, parents cannot help but be concerned. “Clubfoot,” as a word and a term, is not particularly kind—it is as evocative as it is unpleasant. Observed in infants, toddlers, and adults alike, clubfoot is a congenital birth deformity that twists an individual’s heel and toes inwards. Clubfoot often affects only one foot, but it can affect both, too. In either case, it can pose a major challenge to mobility and may even prevent a child from learning to walk properly.
In spite of its severity, clubfoot is considerably more common than you might expect: approximately one out of every thousand infants is diagnosed with the disorder. Thankfully, clubfoot is fairly easy to treat, and most of the time, it can be corrected without surgery or significant discomfort.
Treating Clubfoot With the Ponseti Method
An experienced podiatrist can correct most cases of clubfoot, whether the defect affects one foot or both. A typical treatment alternates between two different stages: stretching and casting. Here’s how the process works:
- Your podiatrist stretches your baby’s clubfoot, gently moving it towards a normal alignment.
- Once your baby’s foot is closer to the right position, it’s put in a cast, which stays on for about a week.
- The cast is removed, the foot is stretched again and then put back into a cast.
This stretching and casting, also known as the Ponseti method, is a repeat procedure. With patience and the right expert guidance, stretching and casting may be able to correct the foot and ankle position in 4 to 8 weeks, but it may take longer in severe cases. Surgery is usually a last-resort option, but you should discuss all of the options—as well as the pros and cons of each—with your podiatrist.
Clubfoot Won’t Get Better Without Treatment
Outcomes for clubfoot—when properly diagnosed and treated—are extremely positive. However, it will not get better on its own. Without proper treatment, clubfoot can cripple a child for life.
Fortunately, because children are still growing, their musculoskeletal systems—including their feet—are very responsive to podiatric intervention. This means it is easiest to correct clubfoot early. If your baby has been diagnosed with clubfoot, you need to take immediate action for the sake of your child’s future mobility. Are you ready to get started? Contact us today to make an appointment.