Club Foot Should Be Treated Early
It is fun to stand at a hospital nursery window and observe the scrunched up little faces and waving arms and legs. All the possibilities of life stretch out before these little ones. Some will have an easy time and breeze through life seemingly unscathed. Others start off with challenges right away, which they tackle throughout their lives, developing strong characters and becoming an inspiration to others. A common birth defect called club foot may look like one of those challenges, but if treatment begins immediately, your child should be able to run, play and enjoy a normal life.
What Does Club Foot Look Like?
If your baby is born with this abnormality, the foot will be turned inward and tipped, sometimes so severely that it almost seems upside-down. The position of the leg and foot resembles the shape of a golf club. Doctors aren’t sure why the foot grows this way in the womb, although it does seem to occur in families where others have the condition. It can be related to spina bifida or amniotic band syndrome as well, so it is important to have your baby screened for other conditions if club foot is present. Sometimes the abnormality can be detected during prenatal ultrasounds, but it is usually diagnosed at birth.
Treatments for Club Foot
This condition is not painful, but if it isn’t treated your child’s foot may not develop normally, causing trouble with walking and playing. Finding shoes that fit can also be a problem. Most cases of club foot are now treated with the Ponseti method – a series of manipulations, casts, and braces used every week or two during the first few months of life. This method corrects both the inward-turned and the tipped-up positions a little more each time until the foot is lined up properly. Surgery may be needed on the Achilles tendon at that time if the foot points downward, but then the changes are maintained by wearing a night brace until age two.
This is where the cooperation of the parents (and the child) is needed. The problem can return if the bracing is not continued as the child develops, so the family needs to be disciplined about following through on the treatment. If they do, 90% of children will have a good outcome and be able to enjoy life normally. One foot may always be about a size smaller than the other, and the calf may be a little slimmer, but they should be able to wear shoes, run, and play like others. If your child isn’t walking yet at 18 months, you may want to have them checked for other problems.
Where to Go for Help
In Chicago, you can contact Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos at My Chicago Foot Expert for answers to your questions about club foot – and for great foot care for all of your foot problems. Call (773) 561-8100 today, or ask for an appointment on our website. We want to promote healthy feet for you and your whole family!