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Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics. We offer comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and management of clubfoot for infants and children.
Our experts specialize in the Ponseti method as well as in surgical treatments for clubfoot. We help our patients achieve the best possible outcomes in a family-centered environment.
Why Choose Gillette?
- Gillette is one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics.
- Our skilled providers are experts in diagnosing and managing clubfoot, regularly seeing more than 1,000 cases of clubfoot each year.
- We provide nonsurgical and surgical treatments that allow our patients to achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of function and appearance.
- Our specialists collaborate to provide care for children who have related conditions, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other complex issues.
- We believe that clinical research and an emphasis on outcomes promotes the highest standards of care.
Clubfoot is a condition characterized by abnormal foot shape and position. It affects infants at birth. The ankle points downward, the toes are pulled toward the inner leg, and the bottom of the foot faces inward instead of downward. Some children have one affected foot; in others, both feet are involved. In mild cases, the foot might be quite flexible. In other instances the foot is more rigid.
Clubfoot Incidence, Causes and Risk Factors
Clubfoot occurs in approximately one of every 1,000 births and affects more males than females. Some experts believe clubfoot develops when the anklebone, which moves up and down in the ankle socket, is abnormally shaped.
Others think clubfoot results from abnormal nerve function in the leg or abnormal tissues in the muscles and tendons of the foot. Clubfoot also might be a genetic condition, but most families show no clear hereditary pattern.
Many of the complex conditions we treat at Gillette are associated with clubfoot, including:
Clubfoot Symptoms and Effects
Left untreated, clubfoot often causes children to develop an unusual walking pattern (gait). Such children typically place their weight on the side of the foot, rather than on the sole. As a result, they develop painful calluses, weakened calf muscles and other complications. Most cases of clubfoot, however, are treated before such problems develop.
In some cases, ultrasound technology allows clubfoot to be detected before birth. By 24 weeks’ gestation, providers can diagnose about 80 percent of cases of clubfoot. An expert clinical evaluation after birth can confirm a diagnosis. In many cases, babies are evaluated in the first one to two weeks of life, before complications such as foot rigidity can arise.
An early diagnosis can help expectant parents prepare by learning about the condition and treatment options. Early diagnosis and treatment also increases the possibility that conservative or noninvasive treatments will be effective. Treatment that begins in the first weeks of life leads to the best outcomes.
Clubfoot can’t be prevented. Treatments can, however, correct foot alignment and improve range of motion. For example, a series of casts can gradually stretch and straighten the foot, and a simple outpatient procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon can help the foot move up and down more easily. In addition, splints, braces or special shoes can help prevent a relapse of clubfoot.
Primary treatment options include:
- The Ponseti method (a nonsurgical method of correcting clubfoot), often in conjunction with an outpatient procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon
- Surgical correction (for cases in which the Ponseti method is ineffective or insufficient)
Children who have spina bifida or other neurological conditions frequently have stiff or rigid feet. In such cases, additional surgery might be necessary.
All children who have clubfoot, regardless of treatment, will need splinting, bracing or special shoes to help prevent recurrence as they grow. Regular follow-up care throughout childhood is required. With proper early care, most children won’t experience concerns into adulthood.
Our Clubfoot Services
At Gillette, we know that a team approach to care provides the best outcomes. Our experts collaborate to provide comprehensive services in a way that’s convenient for families.
When a patient has clubfoot, the core care team typically includes specialists in:
Depending on a patient’s needs and associated conditions, providers who specialize in various types of rehabilitation therapies might also be part of the care team. We also welcome the involvement of primary care providers, teachers, and school and community therapists. Working together, we help patients achieve their best possible outcomes.
For information about the comprehensive services we provide at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.
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