Clubfoot is a congenital deformity of the foot and part of the lower leg. It is called a pes equinovarus adducts in medical terms. The foot (pes) faces downward (Aquino), the heel is tilted inward (varus), and the forefoot points inward (adducts). Clubfoot is actually a mistranslation of the English word clubfoot, which means golf club.
The abnormality occurs in one in 800 to 1,000 children. In half of these children, both feet are club feet. Clubfeet are twice as common in boys as in girls; boys are also more likely to have both feet affected. Let’s see symptoms of Clubfoot is a congenital deformity.
Your child’s foot has a different shape than you are used to. Compared to a normal foot:
- the foot pointing downwards (pointed foot position)
- the heel tilted inward
- the forefoot turned inward
As a result, the foot has the shape of a comma or a golf club. A club foot does have a heel and toes. It is not a shapeless lump as is often thought. The lower leg muscles are often very thin.
The abnormal position of the foot cannot be corrected. For example, you cannot move the forefoot up because the Achilles tendon is shortened.
How does a clubfoot develop?
The cause of club feet is usually (80 percent) unknown. Often there is a predisposition in the family. Club feet also occur in 20 percent of the cases in combination with other congenital abnormalities. An open spine (spina bifida) or muscle disorders are the best known. A mild form of club feet develops when a child has had little space in the womb because:
- there was too little amniotic fluid
- the child has been lying in a breech position
- the child is one of multiple births
Is it serious and what can you expect?
Clubfoot is a condition that can lead to abnormalities if left untreated, and treatment for clubfoot should be started as soon as possible in the first week after birth.
1. Massaging and plaster casting The orthopedic surgeon will make your child’s feet flexible by hand and correct them as far as possible towards a normal position. This is not painful for your child. The achieved correction is retained by plastering or taping the feet. This treatment is repeated once or twice a week for the first weeks of life, then weekly and then every two weeks. This non-operative treatment lasts three to four months.
An X-ray is used to check whether the feet are in the correct position after this plaster or tape treatment. In one third of the children, a positive result is indeed achieved in this way. The treatment is then ready. However, these children usually receive splints to prevent the foot from turning back to the starting position.
2.Operation The children for whom the massage and plaster cast did not achieve the correct result must be operated on. Tendons are then extended to lift the pointed foot position; joint capsules are also lengthened so that the foot can assume a more normal shape. After the operation a few more weeks of plaster and splints will follow.
3. Splints Splints are usually worn by your child day and night until they start walking. From that moment on, the splints are only worn while sleeping. Sometimes special shoes are prescribed.
Older age Usually your child can wear normal shoes, but sometimes special adapted shoes are needed. Sometimes your child will need physical therapy to train the muscles of the feet and legs and improve walking. Until the age of around fourteen, when the foot has grown out, your child will be monitored by the orthopedic surgeon.
See also, Hip problems in children
Result of the treatment The aim of the treatment is that your child can walk and move normally or as normally as possible, with or without suitable shoes. Your child’s feet will often continue to look different from those of children with normal feet. The child’s calf usually also remains thinner.
Relapse Relapse can always occur before the foot has grown. This is especially true if the clubfoot occurs along with other birth defects. These children are therefore treated with splints for longer as a precaution. In the event of relapse, various operations are possible to correct again.
When to go to the doctor?
If you suspect that your child has clubfoot, you should always contact the doctor as soon as possible. If there is indeed a clubfoot, it will refer you. Incidentally, the midwife, gynecologist and maternity nurse will always keep an eye on your child’s feet.
What can you do about it yourself?
You cannot do anything about a club foot yourself. Treatment by an orthopedic surgeon is always required.
If your child does not need adapted shoes later on, the shoes that fit best can be selected. If one foot is on, it is often smaller, so it is important that both shoes fit properly.
- Sports and gymnastics
You do not have to protect your child, it can do everything it wants to do with regard to walking and sports.
General advice and precautions
If there are club feet in your family or if you have previously had a child with a club foot, report this to the midwife or gynecologist. He will then be extra alert for signs of a clubfoot in your child.
There is a recurrence rate of 3 to 5 percent with each subsequent pregnancy. Unfortunately, there are no precautions to prevent this.
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