Clubfoot is a scary-sounding word used to describe a common condition. Worldwide, one out of every 1,000 children is born with clubfoot each year. While clubfoot can be observed in infants, toddlers, and adults alike, it is almost always the result of a birth deformity. Nobody knows exactly what causes clubfoot, but podiatrists can easily recognize its appearance.
When a baby is diagnosed with clubfoot, it means that the muscles and tendons beneath one foot—sometimes both—are a little shorter than they should be. This lends to an infant’s heel and toes curling inward, creating the distinct “club”-type shape that gives the disorder its name. If left untreated, clubfoot can be crippling—it can hinder a toddler’s ability to walk and can force a lifelong hobble.
Thankfully, infants’ bones, muscles, and tendons take several years to settle into their final positions. That means that a skilled podiatrist can often use the body’s natural growth to effectively and reliably “cure” clubfoot.
The Ponseti Method of Treatment
The most common technique podiatrists use to clear up clubfoot is called the Ponseti method. The Ponseti method is a relatively simple technique that can be accomplished without surgery. It has two different components:
Typically, a podiatrist will alternate between these two stages until clubfoot is resolved. The Ponseti method works like this:
- A podiatrist will stretch your baby’s clubfoot, gently moving it towards a more natural alignment
- Once your baby’s foot is in a better position, the podiatrist will cast it
- After about a week, the first cast is removed, the foot is nudged closer to its intended position, and another cast is applied
This process of stretching and casting is repeated until the clubfoot resolves. Sometimes the Ponseti method garners results in as little as a month. However, stubborn cases of clubfoot may require longer, more intensive treatment.
While the worst cases of clubfoot may demand a more invasive surgical solution, stretching and casting are successful in most cases. Of course, you’ll want to consult a podiatrist to get their opinion. Clubfoot, after all, isn’t something you can treat at home. Professional intervention is necessary; without help, your child’s condition is not likely to improve on its own.
Don’t Let Clubfoot Become a Lifelong Impediment
If you’re concerned about your baby’s feet, you need to seek expert assistance as soon as you possibly can. Clubfoot is the sort of condition that responds well to treatment—but because that treatment is reliant upon the baby’s natural growth, you can’t afford to wait for a better time. Complete our contact form or call us today: we have the experience necessary to put your baby on the path toward a normal, pain-free life.