Clubfoot Treatment in Shrewsbury and Edison, NJ
Clubfoot is a common deformity that is present at birth. This condition results from shortened tendons that connect from the lower leg to the heel of the foot, leading the foot to turn inward at an odd angle.
Causes of Clubfoot
There is not an exact answer as to what causes clubfoot, though research suggests that genetics and activities during pregnancy do play a significant role. Mothers who smoke, drink, or use drugs recreationally are more likely to have an infant born with clubfoot than mothers who do not engage in these activities. Of course, it is still possible for a child to be born with clubfoot even if their mother never used any of the substances mentioned.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Clubfoot can range from being only a mild turn of the foot to a severe deformity that inhibits any weight from being placed on the foot at all. A child may experience clubfoot in one or both feet, which will present itself with one or more of the following characteristics:
- The clubfoot is smaller than the other, unaffected foot
- The foot is turned downward
- Underdeveloped calf muscles on the deformed limb
- A deep crease on the bottom of the clubfoot
- The heel of the clubfoot is slightly smaller
Because this congenial condition is fairly easy to identify based on its appearance, the doctors at Atlantic Pediatric Orthopedics will be able to diagnose a case of clubfoot rather quickly. Your physician may also choose to complete an X-ray in order to definitively confirm a diagnosis of clubfoot.
Early Intervention and Treatment for Clubfoot
It is important to know that babies with clubfoot are not experiencing pain as a result of their condition, though this deformity can lead to issues with walking once the child begins to mature. Fortunately, clubfoot can be corrected if it is addressed early in the infant’s life.
The Ponseti Method
One of the most common courses of treatment for clubfoot, the Ponseti method involves gradually reshaping the infant’s foot using gentle stretches and casting. Each week the child’s foot will be stretched a little further into the correct position and recast to hold it in place for the following week before the process repeats.
If needed, your doctor will also perform a minor surgery to lengthen the baby’s Achilles tendon to allow for extended stretching and mobility. Once the casts have realigned the child’s foot, they will need to continue stretching the limb and wear special shoes or braces to provide added support to the area for several months or a few years. Over time, these assistive devices and routines will no longer be needed, and the child will be able to live without them as part of their everyday life.
Parents should note that while the Ponseti method will avoid any sort of highly invasive surgery, it does require an incredible level of commitment and dedication to correcting the child’s clubfoot over the first few years of their lifetime. Those that do not follow explicit instructions from their provider are likely to have children that experience a recurrence of clubfoot.
Surgical Treatment for Clubfoot
For kids that suffer from a severe case of clubfoot, or are unable to treat their condition using the Ponseti method, there are other surgical treatment options. The details of this procedure will vary slightly on a case-by-case basis, as a surgical specialist will need to work carefully to realign the child’s foot by manipulating the length of their tendons and restructuring the bones of the foot themselves. Assistive devices including specially designed shoes, braces, and even a cast may be needed in the first few months following your child’s surgical treatment for clubfoot.
Like the Ponseti method, surgical treatment is most effective and beneficial when performed as early as possible in the infant’s life. If your doctor is able to intervene before the joint has fully developed, the child and their ability to walk without interference both have a better long-term outlook.
Questions? Ask an Expert at Atlantic Pediatric Ortho!
To determine which type of treatment is best for your little one, contact Atlantic Pediatric Ortho today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists! New patients can call our office at either of our two locations in Shrewsbury and Edison at (732) 544-9000, or simply submit a request online using our secure form.