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How is a clubfoot managed in a child?

A clubfoot is a deformity of the foot which are existing at birth. It occurs in approximately one per 1000 live births which makes it a reasonably frequent problem. When a baby is born the midwife or doctor is going to examine them for a number of different disorders as part of the screening process. A clubfoot is one of those problems that they routinely look for. A clubfoot is described as when the foot is in a downward and inward position in comparison to normal. This is technically generally known as planterflexed, inverted and abducted position of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is generally comparatively minor problem however may be rather upsetting at the birth because it is visible. Often, it is an isolated problem, but from time to time it is part of a range of symptoms making up a syndrome. Those with this deformity are also more likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The management of a clubfoot would depend on the seriousness and characteristics of it. There are fundamentally two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot is usually managed with regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching out and then the foot is put into a plaster cast to hold it in a more changed position. After a period of time, that could rely on how serious it is, the plaster cast is taken off and the foot is again mobilized and stretched with a new plaster cast being used and then to hold the foot in an much more corrected position. This process has been well documented to be in general quite successful. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is rigid then a surgical technique is advised. Technically this is a complicated surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are many structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that should be operated on to move the foot in to a much more corrected position, making it complicated.