While clubfeet is not a painful condition, without treatment it can lead to discomfort and a debilitating lifestyle by teenage years. The goal of early treatment is to correct and stabilize your child’s clubfoot (or feet) by the time they start walking.
It is best to start treatment as early as possible for a successful outcome. Non-surgical treatment options include the Ponseti method. Developed in the last 15 years, it involves the correction of a clubfoot through stretching, casting, and bracing. With this treatment, a cast is applied each week as the doctor slowly stretches and moves the foot towards the proper position. Once the foot is in proper alignment, the child must wear a brace for the next two years to maintain the correction. The Ponseti method has been proven to be extremely effective, but it requires active participation of the parents to prevent recurrence.
Sometimes stretching, casting and bracing are not enough to correct a baby’s clubfoot. Surgery is performed to rearrange the tendons, ligament and joints in the affected foot/ankle. Surgery is occasionally needed for highly resistant clubfoot that does not correct with casting. Clubfoot can partially reoccur in toddlers and may require a tendon transfer to rebalance the foot. Following surgery, the foot is casted to allow for healing and afterwards can involve the use of a brace to prevent the foot to returning to it’s pervious position.
With proper treatment a child will have a nearly normal foot. They will be able to play, and run without pain and wear normal shoes. While pain-free, there will also be some slight differences between the clubfoot and the normal foot with the clubfoot being 1 to 1 1/2 size smaller and a little less mobile.