Clubfoot is a congenital defect that affects nearly 1 in 1000 births. It’s characterized by a foot that turns inward or under at a severe angle. The name comes from the shape of a golf club head with its slightly angled appearance. Children with untreated clubfeet may suffer from weakened leg muscles due to walking on the sides or top of the feet. Foot pain from clubfoot can hinder walking in a child’s early years, so it is important to start treating this condition as soon as possible.
The cause of this deformity of the foot is not completely understood. There seems to be a genetic component, meaning if you or your spouse have had clubfoot, your chances of having a child with the same condition are high.
Of course, taking certain medications during pregnancy, drinking alcohol, smoking or being around second-hand smoke can increase the risk of not only clubfoot but birth defects across the board.
Additionally, it is possible to be caused by the position of the baby inside the womb. Clubfoot can also be associated with other medical conditions, such as spina bifida, stroke or brain injury. Therefore, if you child has clubfoot, please make sure to have your child examined for other medical conditions.
Signs of clubfoot include the foot being turned inward or at a severe angle. The foot or feet (it occurs in both feet in about 50% of cases) might also be smaller than normal. In
addition, one foot or leg might be larger or longer than the other.
While clubfoot may be painless in a baby, it can lead to disability if left untreated and make it difficult to walk or run normally or wear regular shoes.
Clubfoot is best treated early in the child’s life. Newborn babies have extremely pliable limbs at such an early stage in life, so adjusting the foot to the correct position is much easier at this time than later. There are a few different methods used to treat clubfoot.
The Ponseti Method: In this technique, the child’s foot is stretched gently. Once in the correct position, the foot is put into a cast. The foot is placed into a new cast each week.
The French Method: This is similar to the Ponseti Method in that the foot is stretched and aligned to the right position. However, instead of a cast, adhesive tape is used to keep the foot straight and this is repeated daily.
Surgery: If conservative methods don’t work, surgery can be a last resort. Surgery for clubfoot is used to lengthen the tendons that are holding the foot in the awkward position. It will require your baby to wear a brace for an entire year, but the end result may lead to a significant correction of the clubfoot.
Finding the right shoes for a child with clubfoot is not only important for the child’s foot development but his self-esteem as well. A properly fitting shoe can help your child to feel more comfortable with this condition. Shoes for children with clubfeet can be fitted with lifts to even out the child’s gait. Clubfoot shoes can be made to fit feet
of irregular length. There are many more options for comfortable shoes for kids with clubfoot than there were in the past and many of them are stylish to boot. Dealing with clubfoot is certainly a challenge, but with the right resources, medical care and support your child can live an active, normal life.