Clubfoot, also known as talipes, is a birth defect affecting one or both feet.
Clubfoot is when a baby’s foot is twisted out of shape or position. This condition occurs when the connective tissues between the muscles and the bone (tendons) are shorter than usual.
Clubfoot commonly occurs in newborns. A baby with clubfoot will have their feet point down and inwards with the sole of the foot facing backwards. In general, clubfoot does not cause any pain. However, if not treated promptly, clubfoot may eventually cause pain and make it difficult for babies to walk normally.
There are two types of clubfoot, namely:
- Isolated clubfoot. Commonly occurs in babies. Infants and children can develop isolated clubfoot symptoms even though they don’t have any other health problems. This is also often referred to as idiopathic clubfoot.
- Non-isolated club foot. This type of club foot occurs along with other health problems. Newborns with joint problems may develop non-isolated clubfoot.
Causes of Clubfoot
In most cases, the exact cause of clubfoot is unknown. However, genetic factors are thought to be one of the triggers for clubfoot symptoms.
If a parent has a child with clubfoot, it is likely that the next child will experience the same condition. Moreover, babies who are born in families with a medical history of clubfoot can potentially experience similar symptoms.
Apart from genetic factors, clubfoot can also be caused by the baby’s position in the uterus – which results in the clubfoot seen later at birth.
Clubfoot can also appear due to the mother’s medical history – such as nerve injuries, muscle injuries, bone damage, stroke, and more.
When to See a Doctor for Clubfoot?
Clubfoot can be diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist after birth. In some cases, clubfoot can be detected via ultrasound between the 18-21 weeks of pregnancy.
Diagnosis is made by examining the physical condition of the baby’s feet. Normal baby feet will be more flexible to move. However, babies with clubfoot conditions will have stiff legs.
Club foot cannot be cured before birth. However, realizing the condition of club foot before the baby is born can give parents the opportunity to immediately consult a doctor and decide on the right treatment.
Often times, the club foot condition resolves on its own. The baby’s feet will adapt after three months. If a baby seems to have persistent club foot, it can be treated with a series of physiotherapy sessions.
Symptoms of Clubfoot
Babies with clubfoot will not feel any pain or discomfort in their feet. New club foot symptoms can be detected by the doctor or the baby’s parents.
Signs of clubfoot include:
- The foot rotates in an unusual twist – downward and inward, increasing the arch and turning the heel inward
- The affected leg or foot may be slightly shorter.
- The baby’s calf muscles are weakened.
Treatment for Clubfoot
In newborns, clubfoot will be treated at least a week or two weeks after the baby is born. The primary treatment for clubfoot is called ponseti.
Ponseti is a therapeutic method by gently manipulating the baby’s foot into the normal position, then inserting a cast. This method is repeated every week for five to eight weeks.
After placing the cast, some babies with clubfoot are required to have minor surgery to relax the tendon behind the ankle. Tendons are fibrous tissue that connects muscles to the bone (tendons).
During the surgery, the baby will be put under anesthesia to relieve pain. This anesthesia will allow the baby to release their feet into a more natural position.
After the surgery, the baby will be required to wear special shoes. These shoes help avoid developing clubfoot symptoms in the future. The baby will have to wear the shoes full time for three months, and then at night and during naps for up to five years.
Treatment Cost for Clubfoot
The cost for clubfoot treatment varies – depending on the baby’s feet condition and type of surgical procedure.
For more information regarding the estimated costs of Clubfoot treatment, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Clubfoot
The cause of clubfoot is still unknown. Therefore, you cannot completely prevent the condition.
However, there are a number of things you can do to ensure the overall physical health of the baby while it’s still in the womb. These include:
- Preconception tests. This is a pre-pregnancy examination to ensure that the fetus is in perfect health condition.
- Infection tests. It is important to check for infection to ensure a smooth childbirth process and the baby is born in a healthy condition.
- Counseling with a genetic counselor. Genetic counselors are experts in genes, birth defects, and other health problems. They will be able to detect a history or the possibility of club foot defects.
- Routine check-ups during pregnancy. This is done to make sure both the mother and baby are healthy.
- Avoid exposure to smoky environments and alcohol consumption during pregnancy
Home Remedies for Patients Diagnosed with Clubfoot
Babies with clubfoot conditions are still require to be treated at home even after surgery. The baby will be provided with special shoes that must be worn after the surgery.
After three months, the baby is allowed to stop wearing the shoes. However, it is good to develop the habit of wearing the shoes every night for up to 4-5 years.
In addition to the shoes, you should also regularly monitor the baby’s development, especially their feet. After the painless surgery treatment, your baby will be able to walk normally.
However, the affected foot still has the potential to develop clubfoot symptoms. That is why you must ensure that the shape of your baby’s feet remains normal. If you notice an abnormality in your baby’s feet, consult a doctor immediately.