Club foot treatment: The alternative or orthodox way
Clubfoot is an abnormality which happens to children who are otherwise healthy. It is a disability that occurs when the tendons and ligaments of the feet are made shorter. It is the shortness of the ligaments that makes the feet to turn inwards and downwards, making a normal walks impossible. Although clubfoot happens to about one in 1,000 babies, the black population is believed to have up to three times the average world number.
The causes are not known but it is thought to be genetic. Treatment is mostly by surgery to the tendons and ligaments but some traditional none operative treatments are recommended.
According to medical opinion, there are two categories of club foot-easily correctable clubfeet and resistant clubfeet.
They are easily corrected with manipulation, casting and splintage.
Resistant clubfeet does not respond to splinting and go back to the club shape immediately after it has been thought to be successfully treated. Resistant clubfeet is identified as having a thin calf and a small high heel. According to medical opinion, resistant clubfeet need early operative management.
However, opponents of the knife say that surgery may not work on the long time because more surgeries may be needed, as the child grows older. They promote an alternative non-invasive method saying the cut and fix procedure, which is the widely available surgery, is painful to babies as well to their parents because the knife may leave rigid scar tissue, painful feet which make movement difficult and leaves the calves to be of different sizes. They say that such could lead to arthritis in later years.
One of such alternative form of treatment is that of Dr. Ignacius Ponceti.
Although club foot is not a major disability but, in some places, babies whose club foot were seen during a scan have been known to have been terminated in advanced pregnancies.
Treatment may start by giving counsel and advice to parents to reassure them that they are not the cause of the deformity and that it is unlikely that it would reoccur in subsequent pregnancies.
With non-operative treatment, splintage is recommended about three days after birth when the foot is set at the best position possible by strapping until full correction is reached. However, surgery is recommended as soon as it is obvious that this method is not effective. But according to experts, the reported success rates for traditional casting methods are 11-58%.
Dr. Ignatius Ponseti is the Spanish doctor who found under the microscope that that the ligaments of still-born fetuses were flexible and were, therefore, possible to stretch without damage. A study which was done of Ponseti method in 2014 found that the method had better results than some others or the traditional approach. Another study noted that the method might prove effective for the treatment of rigid residual deformity of congenital clubfoot after a child is of walking age.
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