Having a child is often one of the most exciting times in the life of a family. However, learning that there may be a problem or abnormality with your child’s feet can be alarming and scary. If you are pregnant with or currently have a child with clubfoot, you may be able to relate to this experience.
Dr. Harvey Danciger, foot specialist in Palm Desert, CA treats the foot and ankle needs in children on a regular basis. There are many conditions common among children, and clubfoot is one of the most common, major birth defects around the world. It is present at birth in approximately 1 in every 1,000 children and one in three children will have both feet clubbed. It usually occurs in males more often than females and is twice as likely to occur if one or both parents had the condition or if a sibling was born with it.
What is Clubfoot?
With clubfoot, the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones in the foot are shorter than normal. This causes the heel to be twisted at an angle making the toes point down and inward. It often appears as though the top of the foot is on the bottom. Typically, the clubfoot, calf, and leg are shorter and smaller than normal.
The cause of clubfoot is unknown, but there have been cases when having a secondary condition such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida has had an influence on the development of clubfoot. There are some studies that support clubfoot being linked to cigarette smoking in pregnancy, especially when associated with a family history of the condition.
A lack of amniotic fluid in the womb and illicit drug use has also been associated with clubfoot. Clubfoot can be mild or severe but is usually not painful for a child. However, it is important to know that this condition will affect a child’s ability to walk unless intervention is sought early on. If proper treatment is not sought, the child could have a lifetime of disability.
What Are Some Complications of Having Clubfoot?
A child with clubfoot will often have no serious complications until they need to start learning to stand and walk. When a child receives early intervention and appropriate treatment, the complications can be minimal. A child may have a slight amount of limited mobility and if only one foot is affected it could be up to 1½ shoe sizes smaller.
If a child with clubfoot is not able to receive proper treatment in a timely manner, the following are a few of the complications that could result:
- An inability to walk normally
- Problems with muscle development
- Anxiety or problems with self-image
How is Clubfoot Treated?
If you have learned your baby will be born with clubfoot or you have a child with the condition, Dr. Danciger will be able to walk you through the most effective treatment plan for your child. For many years, surgery has been the most common way to treat clubfoot. Today, there are many cases where clubfoot can be treated in more conservative ways to avoid the surgical route.
Again, treatment will be most effective when it is started early. This will help your child grow up to be able to wear normal shoes and live the active lifestyle they desire. Common treatment options include:
- Stretching and casting – This is also called the Ponseti method and is the most common treatment for clubfoot. The affected foot is stretched to the normal position and then put in a cast. The process is repeated until the foot is moved to the desired position.
- Stretching and taping/splinting – This is also called the French method and involves tape and splints to hold the foot in place rather than a cast.
- Surgery – This is used if the condition is severe and the above methods fail to be successful. It is usually encouraged that if surgery is necessary, it is done before the child starts walking.
If your child needs treatment for clubfoot, or if you have any questions about this condition, do not hesitate to contact us today. We have the answers you need and can provide a treatment plan tailored to your child’s needs. Make an appointment by calling (760) 568-0108 or schedule an appointment online.