Clubfoot is a condition which results in your baby being born with abnormally shaped feet. It could be one foot but it generally affects both feet.The heel could be smaller than the rest of the foot or both feet could be pointed inward at each other. It is also possible that the feet may point downwards.
The cause of clubfoot in babies is still unknown, however, most doctors contribute it to a combination of genetic as well as environmental factors. It could have occurred due to the positioning of the baby while they were in the womb. If your first child was born with clubfoot, chances increase of your second child being born with the same.
However, clubfoot is easily curable if diagnosed immediately. Sometimes, it is diagnosed before delivery using an ultrasound, but in most cases, doctors diagnose it after the birth of the baby.
It’s important to remember that clubfoot can be completely cured if diagnosed immediately and your child will end up growing with two normal feet. Sometimes, the size of the feet might be mismatched but for all physical purposes, their feet will be fully functional.
Treatment for clubfoot is most effective if begun as early as two weeks old. This is the best time to start as the bones and tissues are still developing and are easily malleable. If left untreated, it may cause spine related problems in future, aside from difficulties in walking and movement.
Treatment is mostly done in either of the two ways, the traditional method or the Ponseti method. In the former, one foot is treated at a time while in the latter, all the disabilities are targeted at once.
Most doctors start with casting as the initial procedure. It involves wrapping a cast around your child’s feet to bring it as close to normal as possible. It is entirely painless for your child and it would require a few sittings. It works in the same way as a cast does during a fracture. The cast would be on for almost three weeks. Along with the cast, some doctors would also recommend adjusting a few tendons within the foot. They might suggest cutting or lengthening the Achilles tendon. If cut, it would regenerate by the time the plaster is removed.
To prevent a relapse after the brace is removed, doctors may suggest you opt for a brace to keep the feet in shape.
If for some reason, the treatment was started late and the bones have already begun to take definitive shape, surgery might be the only option left. And after surgery, there would be a few sessions of physical therapy to ensure progress.