Clubfoot is an abnormal condition present in the foot, which is usually present at the birth. A person can be said to have a clubfoot if the foot and the ankle twisted out of shape and position permanently. This abnormality arises as the tissues, which connect the bones to the muscles are usually shorter than their adequate size. This causes the ligaments and tendons to stick to the bones in a tight manner which then leads to the abnormal position of the foot.
Clubfoot looks similar to the head of a golf club, that is where it gets its name from. The condition of Clubfoot can range from mild to severe.
About half of children who are born with clubfoot have the defect present in both feet. If the child has a clubfoot problem, then it may be hard for the child to walk normally, therefore clubfoot surgery is usually recommended by the doctors soon after birth.
There are several signs and symptoms of clubfoot, that are can be recognized easily. They are:
• The top of the foot may be twisted inwards and downwards which are increase the arch and turn the heel inwards.
• There is a severe turn in the foot that may look like the foot is actually turned upside down.
• The calf muscles in the affected leg are not developed fully.
• The affected foot can be shorter than the normal foot by about 1/2 inch (about 1 centimetre).
The exact cause of clubfoot is still unclear, however, there are several factors associated that can increase the risk of having a clubfoot. They are:
• You are a male
• Improper nourishment during your mother's pregnancy due to activities like drinking, smoking.
• A family history of having a clubfoot.
• You possess spina bifida or other spinal cord injuries
The surgeon administers general anaesthesia before making an incision. During the clubfoot surgery, the doctor increases the length of the Achilles tendon which is present near the heel of the foot. The doctor then releases the tightly held tissues in the foot. Sometimes the doctor may also carry out a tendon transfer. These cuts that the surgeon makes help in the loosening of the tight tendons and ligaments which then your surgeon changes and adjusts to bring your foot into a normal position. This tendon transfer is responsible for allowing the foot more freely and normally.
If you get the clubfoot surgery done when you turn older, your tendons and ligaments may become less flexible over time. That is why doctors recommend the clubfoot surgery at the birth itself as their muscles are more flexible at that time.
If the doctor carries the clubfoot surgery during your adulthood, then he may need to cut into the bone in order to twist the foot back to its normal position. The procedure of cutting into the bone is called osteotomy. After this, the doctor uses metal plates or screws to hold the foot in the correct position. After the metal plates securely place your foot and ankle into the right position, the surgeon puts your leg in a cast.
After the Clubfoot surgery, you may have to stay in the hospital for up to three days after surgery. There may be a swelling in the foot. The doctor may ask the child to wiggle their toes in order to ensure that the blood flow to their foot isn’t interrupted.
The doctor also recommends wearing brace after clubfoot surgery which helps to keep the foot in the right position and help in the easy movement after the clubfoot surgery.
To make the clubfoot surgery recovery smoother, you may be advised to opt for physical therapy which helps to keep the flexibility, a range of motion, and muscle tone to the leg in proper control.
There are not many side effects of the clubfoot surgery if you get it done under good supervision. However, in some complicated cases, several side effects of clubfoot surgery may arise, like:
• nerve damage in the foot
• Stiffness in foot or ankle
• Severe foot swelling
• An interruption in the blood flow towards the foot
• Formation of ulcer due to tight casting.