Getting Help With My Back

A Guide To Treatment Options When Your Baby Has A Clubfoot

by Renee Ruiz

If you're expecting a baby and an ultrasound has recently suggested that your little one has a clubfoot or your newborn had that issue at birth, it's important to know that both non-invasive and surgical procedures exist to treat the issue. For instance, if consistent stretching and casting of the affected foot over a significant period of time hasn't reversed the condition, surgical intervention may be required. Surgery may also be necessary if the clubfoot was very severe and the orthopedic surgeon thinks that treatments other than major surgery on the affected area will fail. Therefore, if your child has been diagnosed with a clubfoot and you are determining what to expect in the next few months or years, the following information will be quite helpful.

Understanding Non-invasive Treatments 

It is first necessary to understand that although the issue of clubfoot is rare and only occurs in about 1 out of every 1000 babies born in the United States each year, extensive research and experience with this serious health concern has allowed most babies born with it to recover and live normal lives after receiving adequate and appropriate treatment. One of the more common non-surgical treatments for a clubfoot is known as the Ponseti method. It involves weekly visits with a specialist who will remove an existing cast, make adjustments to the child's legs and then re-cast the area. When that has provided the maximum benefit over several weeks, the the doctor will then use casts on one or both legs and a metal bar between them to hold the feet at a precise angle. It is often necessary to continue wearing the casts and bar, as well as appropriate shoes for the device, for as long as four or five years. Failing to comply with the doctor's recommendations can allow the treatment to fail, so parents must commit to using it on their children for up to 23 hours of the day.   

A similar treatment to the aforementioned Ponseti method is the French method. The primary difference between the two is that the French method tapes the feet each week in lieu of a cumbersome cast. You should expect for your child to see the physical therapist multiple times a week and you will probably be trained in how to care for your child at home between appointments.

When The Less Invasive Treatments Fail, Are Contraindicated, Or Have Shown Inadequate Improvement

If your child's clubfoot is severe and the extent of the damage means that non-invasive treatments won't work, or if you have provided the treatment and your child's foot is still impaired, surgery is probably needed. One very common procedure that can often be done as an out-patient procedure or even in the physician's office is the tibial tendon transfer. Its incision lengthens the tendons and ligaments in the foot that are contributing to the issue. Alternatively, tendons and ligaments may need to be moved to a new area in the foot for the same benefit.

A more invasive procedure that an orthopedic surgeon may suggest requires cutting into the bone in order to permanently force the foot into the proper appearance. In order to maintain the proper position in the future, the surgeon may need to secure the bone with screws or metal plates. Some kids benefit from extensive physical therapy to encourage the muscles in the foot and leg to work properly and gain strength. The use of a brace or similar device, in conjunction with the physical therapy, is often helpful for the recovery process.            

In conclusion, it can be terrifying to learn that your new baby has a clubfoot that hasn't or is unlikely to respond to braces, stretching and other less invasive treatments. Therefore, when you learn that he or she will soon need surgery, you should consider the information provided above.    

For more information, talk with an orthopedic surgeon or visit websites like