How Long Does Clubfoot Treatment Take?

by | Oct 30, 2022

Clubfoot is a congenital condition involving the feet turning inward and downward. It affects one in every 1,000 births worldwide. Although the cause of clubfoot is unknown, it’s believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Left untreated, clubfoot can lead to pain, deformity, and difficulty walking. However, with early diagnosis and clubfoot treatment, most people with clubfoot can lead normal, active lives.

Treatment involves a combination of stretching, serial casting, and surgery, and the sooner you start, the better the outcome. Keep reading to learn more details about the treatment stages and how long each takes.

Clubfoot Treatment Time Frame

When a parent learns their child requires clubfoot treatment, one of the first questions on their mind is, “how long will this take?” This is natural, as no parent wants their child to spend more time undergoing treatment than necessary.

The time frame to correct these types of child foot problems depends on when treatment begins, the severity of the clubfoot, and the kind of treatment. The gold standard is the Ponseti method, which we recommend for most infants.

It’s important to understand that treatment for clubfoot correction isn’t fast. The process typically starts in infancy and lasts 4-5 years.

However, this doesn’t mean severely limited mobility throughout the entire length of treatment. You’ll still have ample time to create joyful memories with your child.

Baby foot in cast for clubfoot treatment

Ponseti Method Clubfoot Treatment: The Process

Let’s look at the different stages of the Ponseti Method for clubfoot correction and how long each phase lasts.

1. The Casting Phase

Clubfoot in a child is gradually corrected through casting. The sooner this process begins after birth, the better. This phase isn’t painful and almost always eliminates the need for extensive surgical correction.

Positioning the Feet

During casting, we gently manipulate the feet, and the optimal position gets held in place with a plaster cast. Casts typically encase the feet, ankles, and legs (to the upper thighs).

Initial casts are usually worn for about a week and then removed. Next, the feet get repositioned again, and a new cast goes on.

Typically, this recasting process gets repeated 5-8 times, with a higher number of casts required for severe cases of clubfoot. We might recommend wearing the final cast for more than one week, often up to three weeks. So, overall, casting lasts around ten weeks.

Possible Surgical Procedure

For many children, a minor surgical procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon is necessary around the time of the final casting. This could add additional time to the overall time frame of this phase.

2. The Maintenance Phase

Next is the maintenance phase. Once the casting has shifted the feet to the correct position, maintaining the correction is of utmost importance. The maintenance phase prevents a recurrence of the problem.

This is technically the longest part of the treatment. Initially, it’s jarring for many parents because of the brace that holds their child’s feet in place.

Wearing a Brace

The brace consists of a metal bar held between the feet, placed in boots. Using the brace appropriately as the infant’s feet and legs continue to grow and develop is crucial. This process keeps the feet in proper alignment.

The biggest challenge in brace-wearing comes at the beginning when it gets worn up to 22 hours a day. However, the good news is that this usually lasts only a few months.

Starting at around 3-6 months, a significant wear time reduction occurs. After these first few months of life, braces are typically only required overnight.

The braces won’t impede learning to walk, either. They’ll develop their mobility right in step with other children.

As noted above, often, the brace is no longer needed around the age of 4 or 5.

Care at Every Point in the Journey

No matter how long your child’s clubfoot treatment takes, we are here to provide expert advice, guidance, and support.

We understand how stressful it can be at times to go on such a years-long journey with your child’s treatment. We’ll help your family adjust to changes and also help you connect with other families who are going through the same thing. We have spent many years cultivating communities of clubfoot support.

We also offer consultations via a telemedicine appointment if you prefer that option! Feel free to request telemedicine when discussing appointments with our staff. We’ll do our best to accommodate you.

Contact us for Help!

If you have questions about clubfoot (or any other foot or ankle concern in your family), we are here to help! We are more than willing to discuss clubfoot treatment with you further. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

You can contact our Ladera Ranch office by calling 949-364-9255 (WALK) or filling out our online contact form. We will be with you every step of the way!