What it Means
A clubbed foot is congenital, meaning this condition is typically present at birth. This birth defect is common in many infants. A clubbed foot is caused by tissues connecting the muscle to the bone are a shorter length than what is normal, therefore turning the heel of the foot inward. In some cases, the foot can be turned so severely that the foot can appear to be upside-down. This condition can also be seen in both feet, not just one. After birth, your doctor can easily identify a clubbed foot.
If clubbed feet runs in your family, your infant is likely to be born with it as well. However, this defect can also be caused by the environment. If during pregnancy there was an infection, or if smoking occurred, this can double the risk of a clubbed foot.
Although a clubbed foot looks uncomfortable, it is not a painful condition. However, if not treated, there can be a few complications. Mobility may be limited due to the awkward angle of the foot, therefore making walking a challenge. Calf muscles can also be affected, as the calf may be smaller than the other side depending on which foot is clubbed. Lastly, arthritis is also likely to develop if left untreated.
Your infant can be treated for their clubbed foot as early as the first week or two after birth. Since infants have flexible joints and tendons, they are more flexible which helps with correcting the foot. The Ponseti method, which is basically just stretching the foot in order to correct it, is the most common treatment. The infant’s foot would be stretched into the correct position, then a cast would be put in to keep that position. This process is usually repeated once or twice a month. After several months, a minor surgery that lengthens the Achilles tendon.
To follow up this treatment, you must continue to do stretches with your infant. You may also put your baby into special braces or footwear to continue to correct their clubbed foot.
If the stretching method is not successful, then more invasive surgery may be required. Surgery to further lengthen the tendons is the most common way to help get the foot in the correct position. After surgery, your child would be required to wear a cast for up to two months.
A clubbed foot is usually 100% treatable and corrected, as long as it is treated early on. Infants who suffered from a clubbed foot can still grow up and use their feet normally without further problems.