What is club foot? (clubfoot or talipes equinovarus)
The term clubfoot is most often used to describe a relatively common birth defect where one or both feet are positioned at a sharp angle to the ankle. It can range in severity, but is usually not associated with other problems. Clubfoot is generally treated as soon as possible after birth, as once a child starts to walk, it can interfere with their normal development.
Symptoms of congenital clubfoot
Most cases of clubfoot involve a twisting of the top of the foot, so that the arch is raised and the heel is turned inward. The foot may be a little shorter than the normal foot and the calf muscles in the affected leg are often under-developed. The condition itself does not cause pain or discomfort.
Causes and Risk Factors
Although the cause of clubfoot isn’t known, there are factors which seem to play a part. Boys are twice as likely to be born with clubfoot. Smoking during pregnancy, a family history of the deformity and the severe birth defect “spina bifida” are other contributing factors.
The Ponseti Method is one of the most common and effective treatments and should be started within weeks of birth when bones, muscles and tendons are most flexible. It involves manipulating the affected foot into a more normal position and then applying a cast to the foot to maintain the position. The process is repeated several times and is followed up by stretching exercises, the use of special shoes and splinting with a brace for 2 or 3 years. The Ponseti Method does not involve the risks and possible complications of surgery and results in a more flexible foot and ankle than surgical intervention.
If non-invasive techniques have not been successful, surgery may be recommended to lengthen the tendons, followed by the use of a brace for several years.
If your baby was born with clubfoot, schedule an exam with our Brooklyn podiatrists as soon as possible.