How is clubfoot treated in children?

Any mother, noticing clubfoot in children (or “clubfoot”, as some say), will ask quite logical questions: why does the baby have such legs?

Is there an effective treatment for clubfoot? How long does it take for treatment?

Yes, it can be cured, but first, some statistics regarding the causes of this foot defect.

Causes of clubfoot

Surprisingly, the number of children born with clubfoot is growing after the wars. This was noticed after the war with Napoleon, the First World War, the Great Patriotic War. The troubles and anxieties that fall on the shoulders of women during the period of hostilities have a negative impact on the intrauterine development of their children. And, as a result, babies are born clubfoot.

Here is another observation: in the autumn-winter period, more newborns are recorded with signs of clubfoot than in summer and autumn. Again, the reasons lie in the peculiarities of the ongoing pregnancy. The diet of the expectant mother in winter is not so rich in vitamins necessary for the baby, and therefore such an unpleasant consequence.

Late toxicosis during pregnancy can also affect.

Some scientists argue that clubfoot can be mechanical, i.e. due to the mechanical effect of the muscles of the uterus on the feet of the fetus. Also, a similar mechanical injury can occur in “close conditions” – with oligohydramnios.

Hereditary predisposition is another cause of clubfoot. It happens that clubfoot in children is repeated in families from generation to generation.

Clubfoot in children

Thus, there are many reasons, but parents, first of all, are concerned about something else: what kind of treatment exists, and how long it will take.

It should be noted right away that everything is fixable, but you have to be patient – the treatment will be long.

Clubfoot: treatment

To diagnose clubfoot is quite simple, because everything is obvious: the foot is wrapped inward. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, tissues from the inside of the feet are shortened and tense.

The inner edges of the plantar parts of the feet are slightly raised, and the outer edges are lowered. If nothing is done, then eventually the baby will begin to walk, stepping only on the outer edges of the foot. This should not be allowed.

They tried to treat clubfoot in different ways. Here is one of the methods of sparing outpatient treatment, based on taking into account all the features of the development of the conducting nerve pathways.

This involves the traditional application of plaster casts in stages. But there is a small amendment: the leg will not be a “dull cast”. In order to preserve the possibility of carrying out physiotherapy sessions, not to disturb the nutrition and tone of the tissues of the lower leg and foot, it is necessary to leave a small space for the foot in the cast. So it will be possible to carry out active and passive corrective movements to gradually correct the deformity.

Here’s how to do it:

First, the doctor, with light movements, stretches and kneads the tense ligaments and soft tissues of the foot, without causing the slightest bit. A few minutes of this massage is enough to correct the deformation at least a little. Now you need to fix the foot in this position.

A long stocking is put on the child’s leg and a plaster cast bandage is applied over it. This is done in a circular motion, starting from the top and moving downward, wrapping the leg against the direction of the deformation. In the direction of correction, a wedge-shaped gasket made of foamed polyethylene is bandaged on the back of the foot. After the bandage has dried, this pad is removed, and thus free space is formed for the movement of the foot.

Then everything depends on the parents. Successful treatment of clubfoot in children requires daily exercise therapy. These sessions should be at least 5, and preferably 10-15 – 3 minutes each session. There is nothing complicated about it. Slightly pulling the toe of the stocking to the side and upward, you will gradually correct the deformation. If you see a small result, then put a small cotton wool roller in the formed gap in the plaster and continue physical education again. And soon you will stop talking about the causes of clubfoot, and you will see a real result from the treatment.

Surely you bend over the bed many times a day to play with your baby, “crawl”, etc. Do not miss the opportunity at these moments to touch his fingers, tickle them slightly. The child will reflexively respond to this and try to move the leg. Only he can move it only in the direction of correcting the deformation, because on the other hand, gypsum interferes. And this is exactly what we need!

Treatment should be started as early as possible. Best of all – immediately after discharge from the hospital. After all, the tissues and muscles of the newborn are the most pliable and elastic.

There is evidence that in the past centuries clubfoot was corrected already in the hospital, starting from the first day of the baby’s life.

But many orthopedists did not risk applying plaster casts so early, but preferred to start correcting the defect with soft flannel bandages. However, many doctors disputed the positive effect of this method, arguing that the tissue bandage only creates the illusion of treatment and nothing more. It is much more effective to use plaster casts once or twice and get excellent results quickly than to bandage the leg for a long time and tediously, with little results.

The first gypsum is applied to newborns for 5-7 days, no more. Older babies can be imposed for up to 4 weeks. During this period, the ligaments are stretched, after which the doctor can remove the old bandage and apply a new one, fixing the foot in a new position.

Parents should monitor the condition of the plaster cast, prevent it from getting wet, plaster breakage, etc.

In some children, under a plaster cast, the skin becomes rough, very dry, and even slight abrasions may appear. Most often, a warm bath is enough, lubricating the skin with baby cream, and abrasions with iodine or brilliant green. You cannot leave the child without a plaster cast for a long time, this can negate all your previous efforts.

If the condition of children’s skin is such that it is impossible to completely apply a plaster cast, then the doctors limit themselves to a plaster splint, or a boot made of polivik, made urgently according to the size of the legs. In such a boot (“tutor”) the child will need to sleep for several years after the end of the treatment.

How long does clubfoot treatment take?

Each case is different. It happens that severe degrees of deformity are corrected faster than expected, and vice versa, mild degrees of clubfoot are delayed for a long time.

The speed of healing depends not only on the degree of deformation, the individual characteristics of the organism and how early the treatment was started. In many cases, the decisive factor is how patient the parents were, how conscientiously and accurately they conducted physical education sessions with the child.

As practice shows, if the treatment was started from the first days of a child’s life, then in a year he will stand on his legs already correctly.

Thus, clubfoot in children is a frequent, unpleasant, but curable phenomenon if parents do not look at this problem with indifference.

Do you know the manifestation of “clubfoot”? What are the most common causes of clubfoot, in your opinion?

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