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What is a Clubfoot Deformity?
“Clubfoot” describes a range of congenital foot deformities that involve a baby’s foot twisted out of shape at birth. With clubfoot, the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones come out shorter than normal, leading to a twist in the infant’s ankle. A Clubfoot birth defect commonly appears on its own and usually does not indicate any other problems for an otherwise healthy newborn.
Doctors classify Clubfoot as either mild or severe. Nearly 50% of babies born with clubfoot have it on both feet. Children with clubfoot will find it harder to walk normally later in life, so doctors recommend treating it as soon after birth as possible. Doctors can usually treat clubfoot without surgery, although some children may need surgery later on.
Indication Of Clubfoot Deformity
Clubfoot is characterized by several key features:
- Foot Position: The foot is turned inward and downward, with the heel pointing inward and the toes pointing downward. The foot may also appear shorter and narrower than a typical foot.
- Muscle and Tissue Tightness: The muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the foot and lower leg are tight, causing the foot to maintain its abnormal position.
- Bony Abnormalities: The bones in the foot and lower leg may be misshapen or have an abnormal alignment due to sustained deformity.
Treatment For Clubfoot Deformity
Early treatment of clubfoot is crucial to achieve the best outcomes. The main goal of treatment is to correct the foot deformity and restore function and appearance. The Ponseti method is the most commonly used treatment approach and involves a series of gentle stretching, casting, and repositioning of the foot over a period of several weeks.
After the initial treatment, long-term maintenance is necessary to prevent relapse. This involves the use of braces or splints, commonly known as foot abduction orthoses, which are worn for several years to keep the corrected foot in its proper position. Compliance with wearing the orthoses is essential to ensure successful long-term outcomes.
In some cases, additional procedures may be necessary to further correct the foot alignment. These may include a minor surgical procedure called percutaneous Achilles tenotomy, which involves releasing the tight Achilles tendon to improve foot flexibility.
With appropriate and timely treatment, the majority of children with clubfoot can achieve significant improvement in foot function and appearance. However, long-term follow-up is often required to monitor foot development and address any potential issues that may arise.