After months of carrying a baby, and then hours of laboring, the last thing parents want to hear is that the baby has an issue. The delicate (but resilient!) infant has so much to face in the coming days, months, and years, that a complication is upsetting. So when the baby has a congenital birth defect, such as clubfoot, it’s only natural that parents would be worried. But we’re here to tell you that clubfoot is one problem that can easily be identified and solved.
Soon after birth, clubfoot can be easily identified when a foot (or both feet) is turned or twisted out of shape. This can be caused by developmental position in the uterus, short tendons, low amniotic fluid, or other hereditary factor. It can seem worse than it is, but rest assured – it’s almost immediately treatable!
Treating Clubfoot with the Ponseti Method
The most commonly used method for treating clubfoot is called the Ponseti method. The method uses the fact that babies are still very flexible and still growing and developing after birth. The following steps are involved:
- Weekly sessions of moving and stretching the feet and/or ankles.
- At the end of each session, casting the feet in a position that is closer to normal positioning.
- Between sessions, the cast remains on the child’s feet to prevent them from going back to clubfoot position.
- As the baby’s feet get closer to normal positioning, there are assessments done for changing from casting to bracing, and whether or not they need minor surgeries to lengthen or shorten tendons.
- Some children may take longer to set properly and eventually may need more surgery to achieve the final positioning correct. They may also need custom orthotic shoes to help keep the proper shape for development as the bones harden and muscles and tendons get stronger.
If, for some reason, clubfoot is not treated as soon as they are diagnosed, babies will likely have problems learning to use their feet, especially when learning to crawl or walk. Eventually they will need to have major surgeries to reset bones in their proper position.
If your baby has or had clubfoot, regular appointments with our podiatrists will help maintain proper development of their feet and ankles. If your children need custom orthotics, consult with our podiatrist, Dr. Jonathan M. Kletz, at Texas Foot Works. He will assess your children’s feet and ankles to properly diagnose and treat the issue. Make an appointment today at any of our Abrams (Dallas), Athens, and Gun Barrell City, TX offices!