Club foot is a foot and ankle deformity mainly present from birth. Club foot condition is characterized with inward twisted foot and downward toes. Another name for club foot is congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV). This condition arises when the tendons of leg and foot are smaller than usual size.
The actual cause of club foot condition is still unknown. Generally, males are more affected with this disorder than females. Some of the causes include:
- Genetic disorder
- Environmental factors
- Abnormal ligaments and tendons
- Irregular bone alignment
Club foot is a painless condition. However, it is a noticeable disability. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Front part of foot turned inward
- Smaller size of affected foot
- Toes point downwards
- Difficulty in foot movement
Club foot may be detected prior to birth by an ultrasound. After birth, the appearance and movement of feet help to confirm the diagnosis. Bone position and alignment are determined through x-rays. The early treatment involves non-surgical procedure. In severe cases, surgery is chosen.
- Non-surgical Treatment:
For best results, the treatment should begin in right way. Club foot are normally treated without surgery. The non-surgical treatment procedure includes:
- Ponseti Method (stretching and casting)
This is the most common and successful treatment for treating club foot. It is usually started in the first few weeks of the child birth. During treatment, the foot of the patient is kept inside a cast. This cast covers the body from toes to upper thigh. The old cast is replaced with a new one in every 4-7 days. By the time the last cast is used, the heel cord of patient is cut down. This is done to get a normal length of the heel cord. The recovery in this method is usually in 2-3 months. Physical therapy along with special braces or shoes should be used for a few years.
- French Method (stretching, splinting and taping)
Generally, this treatment method is started soon after birth. In this method, the foot is stretched to the correct position. Tapes or splints are used to hold the foot in this correct position. The usual duration of treatment is 6 months. The splints or tapes are changed everyday. Until complete recovery, night splints and special stretching exercises are recommended.
- Surgical Treatment:
Occasionally, the non-surgical treatment options fail. In such conditions, surgery is chosen as an option. The surgery is often performed at the age of 9-12 months. The surgery corrects the abnormalities in ligaments, tendons or joints. For this, the position of tendons is changed to get a better functional tendons. Thus, a longer heel cord is achieved which gives a balanced foot.
After surgery, a 2-3 days hospital stay is often required. A cast is provided in the foot to hold it in correct position. This cast is usually removed after 10-12 weeks. Afterwards, use of splint is recommended until walking is enabled. Physiotherapy is also an important aspect. It enhances the healing of the affected part.
The commonly seen risks with club foot repair are:
- Nerve damage
- Blood flow problem
- Swelling and numbness in foot
- Improper healing