Dealing With Club Feet & Other Foot Deformities In Children

by Andrea

foot ailments, kids feet

cambodian-girl-with-club-foot-by-cambodia-trust.jpg Four and a half years ago, Dr. Randall Owen met a little girl whose club feet were so badly deformed that she walked on the tops of her feet with the help of crutches.  Through the miracle of technology, little Jingle, now 15, has taken her first steps on the bottoms of her feet. 
The doctors did not cut her feet or break any bones.  Instead, they used devices to slowly stretch her feet into place over time.  With the first step completed, she will go through a series of casts and physical therapy.  Now this young lady — who doctors refused to treat as a baby because they felt she would not survive — will be walking soon. 
Her proud mom helped her celebrate by painting her toenails in a sparkly pink color. Now those are some beautiful feet!

More about club foot and other ailments…

Club Feet & Other Foot Deformities

Thousands of children are born each year with limb deformities like club feet

Many of them are born overseas (outside of the United States).  It is not unusual for doctors to use “bloodless” techniques when making limb corrections.  The devices they use resemble the halos used to repair a broken neck, or the devices used to reassemble crushed fingers. 

Here is a report on this somewhat new method of repairing children’s limb deformities (.pdf).   

These devices used to repair deformed feet and limbs are updated versions of the old booths and bars used to correct children’s feet and legs some decades ago. 


My Personal Experience Bowed Legs

Both my younger brother and I were blessed enough to have to learn how to walk with our legs artificially forced apart and our feet a whole 12 inches apart.  (That is quite far for a baby).  We didn’t exactly have club feet, but our feet were turned inward. 

My parents called this condition bow-legged.  Still, we both eventually walked and for the most part, our feet and legs are straight.  My brother did end up having his legs broken and re-cast as a young teenager.  Had those devices been available to us, my brother would have had a much easier time. 
More American children are born with bow legs than with club feet. Doctors no longer put boots and bars on the legs of babies, but instead wait for the legs to straighten on their own. 

Bowlegs may be a genetic trait.  It might also be the result of a vitamin D deficiency, or a bone disorder called Blount’s disease

Treatment is rarely needed, but very occasionally surgery is used to correct a severe curve. Most experts today don’t recommend braces or corrective shoes, which can cause problems with physical development (as well as take an emotional toll). — Parent Center

If your child is born with feet that appear to be turned in, or if the legs begin to curve as the child starts to walk, take your child to the pediatrician to be assessed.  If the doctor decides your child will not grow out of this, then they may use braces.  These braces are much better than the type my brother and I had, but instead are single shoes with straps that encourage the leg to straighten.