The birth of a baby is always a busy time. Parents have to adjust, or re-adjust, to caring for a tiny human being. Feeding, cleaning, cuddling, putting him or her to bed—a new, healthy child keeps parents on the go. A baby born with a condition like clubfoot adds an extra layer of concern that can upset many parents. Fortunately, this problem is easy to correct, as long as it’s addressed early.
Itty-Bitty Twisted Feet
Clubfoot is a congenital foot deformity that makes one or both of your infant’s feet twist sharply in and up at the ankle. The muscles and tendons on the inside of the leg are underdeveloped, making them abnormally short and tight. No one is entirely sure what causes the deformity. This is actually quite a common problem. Sometimes it can run in families, but it doesn’t have to. It isn’t related to the position of your child in the womb; however, some things a mother does while pregnant, like smoking, can increase the odds for it. Occasionally it can be a side effect of a more serious birth defect. In most cases, however, a child with clubbed feet is an otherwise healthy newborn.
The tiny, twisted feet look disconcerting, but they aren’t painful for your baby. The condition does need treatment to allow your child to walk later in life, though. Unless the position of the lower limbs is corrected, the soft baby bones will grow that way and develop a permanent and painful deformity that will impair your child’s mobility.
The good news is that conservative children’s foot care for clubbed feet is usually very successful at correcting this problem. The treatment does take time. Your child’s ability to walk normally, though, is worth it.
Going from Clubbed to Straight
Clubfoot is a condition that needs prompt care to ensure the best healing. You’ll be able to see the effects of the condition as soon as your child is born. Our team of specialists at Martin Foot and Ankle will examine your infant’s lower limbs to get a clearer picture of the extent of the deformity and decide on the best treatment. Sometimes we’ll need diagnostic pictures like X-rays to help with this. Then we’ll discuss your child’s foot care options with you.
The most common type of conservative children’s foot care for clubbed feet is a process of stretching and casting. Our team will stretch your infant’s feet and carefully manipulate them so they are closer to the normal position. Then they will be casted into place to stretch out the short, tight tendons and muscles. After a few days or a week, the cast is removed and the process is repeated, gradually allowing the feet and underdeveloped soft tissues to grow into corrected positions. Once the feet are un-twisted, the Achilles might need to be released so it can grow longer.
After all this, your child will start wearing special shoes attached to braces to make sure the feet continue growing in the correct position and don’t regress. For roughly three months, your child will wear these braces almost full-time. Then your baby will slowly transition to only wearing them for sleeping. This continues for a few years, until your son or daughter’s feet have grown more substantially. At the end of the process, your child’s lower limbs should be completely straight.
Severely clubbed feet may need more direct intervention. Surgery is usually the best option for a child with stiff clubfoot that isn’t responding to stretching treatments. The invasive procedure lengthens the too-tight soft tissues and re-positions the lower limbs. The foot is then casted and allowed to heal. After the procedure, your child will use special braces or shoes for at least a year to prevent the foot from returning to a clubbed position.
While parents are understandably alarmed by conditions like clubfoot, you don’t need to worry. This deformity is correctable, often without surgery. The key is to get children’s foot care right away. Let Martin Foot and Ankle help your child. Call our Lancaster, York, or Hanover, PA offices at (717) 757-3537 for an appointment today.
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