Clubfoot: Straightening Out Baby Feet

Objects function best when all their parts are shaped correctly and set in the right places. Imagine trying to ride a bicycle with one crooked or misshapen wheel. It might still be possible, but it will be difficult to control the bike’s direction and movement. That principle holds true for your body. Your physical structures are designed in a way that allows them to perform their functions efficiently. When a deformity like clubfoot changes the shape and positioning of your lower limbs, your mobility and comfort are severely affected.

Curled Feet

Illustration of ClubfootClubfoot is a common birth deformity. Babies with clubbed feet are born with one or both feet curved sharply inward and down. Usually the leg muscles are shortened and underdeveloped in the affected limb. It isn’t painful for your child, but it does need to be corrected right away so the bones can grow properly and allow your son or daughter to walk normally later. Failing to treat the condition in time can leave your little one with muscle problems, arthritis, and the inability to walk well.

Babies’ feet are soft and flexible. Their bones aren’t completely developed; they’re still made of cartilage instead of calcified tissue. The lower limbs grow rapidly, however, and those first few years are crucial. Learning to walk significantly affects their shape and strength, allowing the arch to form and conditioning the muscles. By school age, the bones have mostly hardened. Successfully addressing clubfoot using conservative measures is only possible if treatment is handled before the baby begins to walk.

Straightening the Problem

Conservative remedies involves repeated stretching and casting of the foot as it grows, and usually begins shortly after the baby is born. Dr. Robert Parker carefully stretches and manipulates the foot toward the correct position and casts it in place. After a week, the cast is removed and the foot is stretched, moved, and re-casted. This goes on for several weeks until the foot is where it should be. After that, your child will need to wear special braces for several years while sleeping to maintain the position as your child grows. This should allow your little one to walk and function pain-free as a young child.

Occasionally conservative treatment is not enough. In that case, your child will need surgery to lengthen and adjust the connective tissues. Joints may need to be manipulated as well. This will correct all the underdeveloped structures at once, allowing your baby’s feet to heal in the right position. Your child will still need to wear a cast following the procedure and braces for a year after that so the foot can recover. Once treatment is complete, however, your little one should be able to run and play normally.

Clubfoot looks unpleasant and can significantly limit a child’s mobility and independence if not treated. Though it does take time, conservative care can correct the deformity and allow your child a chance to walk and function normally. If your baby has clubbed feet, don’t wait and allow the condition to set before seeking treatment. Instead, contact the experts at Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston to see what they can do for your little one’s lower limbs. Call us at (281) 497-2850 or visit the website contact page to reach us for an appointment or more information.