Clubfoot is a condition present at birth in which one or both feet are twisted inward and downward. The condition can range from mild to severe. Treatment for clubfoot should start several weeks after birth, if possible.
While the exact cause of clubfoot is unknown, it is thought to be hereditary. Clubfoot can also be related to other congenital conditions. Infection, drug use and smoking while pregnant will increase the risk of your child being born with clubfoot if you have a family history of the condition.
The only sign is the appearance of the affected foot. It will be up to 1 cm (or half an inch) smaller than the unaffected foot. The calf muscles on the affected side will also be underdeveloped. Calluses are also common in people with clubfoot. Clubfoot is generally pain-free, although stiffness and discomfort may occur later in life if clubfoot is not treated soon after birth.
It’s very important to start treatment early for infants with clubfoot. Treatment should begin before the infant starts walking. If clubfoot is not treated soon after birth, complications can arise, such as arthritis, antalgic gait (a manner of walking that is adopted to avoid pain) and severe disability. Your child may even be forced to wear a leg brace for the majority of their life.
In more mild cases of clubfoot, you can manipulate your child’s foot daily to help the foot take a natural shape.
This method is for more serious cases of clubfoot. The foot will be manipulated into the correct position, then casted to ensure it stays in place. This process will be repeated every week until the position of the foot has been corrected. This process usually takes a total of 6-8 weeks. Stretching and bracing will likely be required after the foot has been corrected to ensure that the foot stays in the proper position.
If clubfoot returns despite non-surgical treatment, or in cases of particularly severe clubfoot, surgery is an option. This involves the lengthening of the tendons in the foot to achieve the correct position. A cast will be applied after surgery and worn for about 2 months. Once the cast comes off, a brace will be worn for about a year to prevent clubfoot from recurring.