If you have a child born with clubfoot, it’s important to pursue treatment right away, while your baby’s bones are at their softest and most flexible. The standard method for correcting the deformity is called the Ponsetti method, and while this is a very long-term approach—with around 6-8 weeks of primary treatment followed by 2-4 years of temporary bracing—it has proven to be highly successful at providing a functionally normal foot for your little one with minimal or no surgery required.
During the first stage, one of our podiatrists will gently stretch the clubfoot into the correct position and place it in a cast. Once or twice a week, for a few months, the cast is cut, the foot is repositioned, and casted again. Following this, we’ll perform a minor surgical procedure to release the tight Achilles tendon, and prescribe special shoes and braces that your child will have to wear for a time in order to prevent a reoccurrence.
Although Ponsetti is the dominant treatment, there are a few other options out there. The French (or functional) method uses a machine to continually move the clubfoot as your baby sleeps, along with daily taping, exercises, and night splints once 6 months of initial treatment is complete. This method requires a much higher time investment at the outset compared to Ponsetti, but the two methods are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and are sometimes combined.
Surgery is the last potential option, reserved for situations that are particularly severe or do not sufficiently improve from Ponsetti or French techniques. In addition to the normal risks of surgery, feet corrected in this manner tend to be stiffer than those treated conservatively, so we always pursue nonsurgical solutions first. Even if stretching doesn’t entirely fix the problem, it could mean the required surgery is less extensive. More minor cases may only require releasing a few specific tendons and joints; more serious problems may require major reconstructive surgery of multiple soft tissue structures.
The good news? With an experienced podiatry team and parents committed to daily maintenance tasks, clubfoot can often be corrected non-surgically with very few (if any) practical long-term consequences for your child’s health and development. To schedule an appointment with the experts at Family Foot and Ankle Center in Greater Cincinnati, give us call today toll free at 888-689-3317.