Clubfoot is a congenital disability that causes an infant’s foot to point down and turn inward at the ankle. The condition occurs in approximately one out of 1,000 births in the U.S. and can affect one or both feet. It isn’t like pediatric flatfoot, which often corrects itself as children’s feet grow and develop. Left untreated, clubfoot can make walking extremely painful or even impossible.
Thanks to modern medical advancements and technology, no infant has to grow into childhood or adulthood suffering the consequences of this disabling condition. Clubfoot can be detected in the womb as early as 13 weeks, and treatment can begin within days of birth. With early intervention by a skilled podiatrist, children born with clubfoot can go on to live normal, active lives.
At Khosroabadi Institute, world-renowned podiatric surgeon Dr. Alireza Khosroabadi, DPM, uses the Ponseti Method to correct clubfoot in infants and children. Here’s what you should know about clubfoot, Ponseti treatment, and how Dr. K can provide the care your child needs to thrive.
What to Know About Clubfoot
In babies with clubfoot, a shortened Achilles tendon and abnormalities in the bones cause the foot to turn under. Though doctors don’t know precisely what drives the development of this deformity, a combination of genetics and environmental factors (such as positioning in the womb) is a widely accepted theory.
Clubfoot can’t be prevented, is twice as likely to affect boys, and can occur with other conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders like cerebral palsy (CP) and spina bifida, congenital differences like arthrogryposis and amniotic band syndrome, and oligohydramnios, a decreased amount of amniotic fluid in the uterus during pregnancy.
The Ponseti Method Is the Gold Standard in Clubfoot Correction
In the 1950s, University of Iowa faculty member and practicing physician Dr. Ignacio Ponseti found that traditional clubfoot surgery either didn’t fully correct the deformity or could cause problems for patients later in life. He developed a simple yet effective, non-surgical technique that slowly and gradually realigns the foot (or feet) utilizing a series of casts and braces to achieve a superior result.
The Ponseti Method is endorsed by prestigious health agencies around the globe, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA), and European Paediatric Orthopaedic Society (EPOS).
Dr. K is an expert in the Ponseti Method, having trained under the late Dr. Ponseti himself.
Why Ponseti Method Treatment Should Begin as Soon as Possible
Clubfoot treatment should start as soon as possible, ideally within seven to 10 days of your child’s birth. While this may sound rather soon, babies’ bones, ligaments, and tendons are extremely soft and pliable, allowing for gentle, gradual, and pain-free realignment.
The Ponseti Method has two phases: treatment and maintenance.
Treatment Phase – Casting
During the treatment phase, Dr. K gently moves the baby’s foot (or feet) toward the correct position and holds it in place with a tiny plaster cast. Affected feet are repositioned 10 to 15 degrees and recast every five to seven days, allowing the bones, tendons, and ligaments to reshape over time.
Most infants need a series of five to six casts. However, babies with very stiff clubfoot may require up to nine. Before the final cast, up to 70 percent of pediatric patients treated with this technique must undergo a brief surgical procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon. The simple and painless procedure takes just 10 minutes and is performed with a local anesthetic. The last cast in the treatment phase stays on longer than the others – two and a half to three weeks – to give the tendon time to heal to the proper length.
Maintenance Phase – Bracing
The maintenance phase begins the same day the last cast comes off to ensure that the flexible bones, tendons, and ligaments permanently settle into the correct position. During this phase, infants wear a tiny foot brace for 23 hours a day for approximately three months.
Specially designed to avoid interfering with babies’ developmental milestones, the brace features small shoes attached to adjustable footplates, connected by a length-variable aluminum bar in the middle. While babies may be initially frustrated with the inability to kick their legs independently, they quickly learn to kick them simultaneously.
The Ponseti Method is effective in 95 percent of patients. Dr. K can discuss more invasive surgical options as a last resort.
Discover Expert Care for Clubfoot in a State-of-the-Art Facility Designed to Promote Comfort, Healing, and Peace of Mind
Dr. K is an internationally celebrated foot and ankle surgeon at the forefront of podiatry dedicated to providing care that restores mobility and improves quality of life.
He uses the Ponseti Method with infants, as well as with toddlers and older children who either didn’t receive clubfoot treatment or for whom previous interventions were unsuccessful. For adults with clubfoot, Dr. K specializes in the Ilizarov Method.
Whether your developing baby was diagnosed with clubfoot via ultrasound, your infant was born with clubfoot, or you’re an adult needing clubfoot correction, you can count on the Khosroabadi Institute and Dr. K for world-class care.