In some cases, ultrasound technology detects clubfoot before birth. By 24 weeks, providers can diagnose about 80 percent of clubfoot cases. Orthopedic specialists offer prenatal consultations to help educate parents about their baby’s treatment options.
An expert clinical exam within the first couple weeks of a child’s life can confirm a diagnosis before complications can arise. Early diagnosis and treatment also increases the chances that nonsurgical treatments will work effectively. Treatment that begins in the first weeks of your child’s life leads to the best outcomes.
Although clubfoot can’t be prevented, treatments can correct foot alignment and improve range of motion. For example, a series of casts can gradually stretch and straighten the foot. Splints, braces or special shoes can also help prevent a relapse of clubfoot.
Primary clubfoot treatment options include:
- The Ponseti method: A nonsurgical method often used along with an outpatient procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon and help the foot move more easily.
- Surgical correction: Clubfoot surgery is necessary for cases in which the Ponseti method doesn’t work. If your child has spina bifida or other neurological conditions, they might also have stiff or rigid feet, and might require additional surgery.
Regardless of the treatment, a child who has clubfoot will eventually need splinting, a clubfoot brace or special shoes to help prevent a relapse as they grow. Making sure your child gets regular follow-up care throughout childhood can help prevent further complications later in life.