Pregnancy and birth are complicated processes. Problems can’t always be prevented or even predicted. Some conditions, like clubfoot, can significantly impact a child’s ability to learn to walk normally. Fortunately, the issue can be managed easily if addressed early enough.
Clubfoot is a foot deformity that causes a baby to be born with one or both feet twisted into an unusual position or shape. The tendons in the affected limb are shorter than they should be, causing the foot curve down and inward. Typically the muscles in that leg are underdeveloped as well. This is a relatively common birth defect, though no one is entirely sure why it occurs. Position in the womb, genetics, and environmental factors can all play a role. The condition can be severe or mild, depending on how twisted and rigid the limb is.
It is important to have the problem assessed and treated before your little one begins to walk. While the condition is painless for a baby, it will present problems later in life if not addressed. Having a clubbed foot will prevent your child from being able to step properly on the sole. The foot will grow into the wrong position, becoming rigid and uncomfortable.
Straightening the Twist
The sooner the problem is addressed, the more likely it will resolve well. Shortly after your child is born, you will need to have the clubfoot examined by a specialist, like Dr. Sanjay Patel. He will thoroughly evaluate the problem and determine its severity. Our trained staff may use a variety of tests to check for additional problems or connections to more severe birth defects. Then we can begin correcting the problem to allow your baby’s feet to grow correctly.
Managing clubbed feet can be done conservatively or surgically, depending on the severity of your child’s condition. Noninvasive methods use a pattern of stretching and casting to lengthen the shortened tendons and change the foot’s position. Your baby’s foot will be gently stretched and manipulated into a more correct alignment, then casted into place to maintain it. After a short period of time, the cast is removed and the whole process is repeated. This continues for several months. Once the foot is in the entirely correct place, your child will need to wear special braces for several more months. After that, the braces are only worn when your little one sleeps. This helps maintain the correct position while your child’s body goes through rapid growth and development.
Sometimes, however, this method is not sufficient to manage a child’s clubfoot. In that case, surgery may be necessary to lengthen the shortened tendons and reposition the foot. Your baby will still need to wear a cast after the procedure to allow it to heal well, followed by braces or special shoes to maintain the corrections as your child grows.
If you do not invest in your child’s clubfoot correction early, he or she risks living with a severe disability for the rest of his or her life. It could impair mobility and cause pain. Treating the condition does take time, but the results are worth it. Don’t wait too long to have your child’s feet cared for. Contact Dr. Sanjay Patel of Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C., in Milford and Hamden, CT, for an appointment. Use our website request form or call to reach us: (203) 876-7736 for our Milford location, or (203) 288-4055 for our Hamden office.