How Long Does Clubfoot Treatment Take?

by | Nov 20, 2020

When a parent learns their child will require clubfoot treatment, one of the first questions they always ask how long that treatment will take.

This is of course a very natural question to ask. No parent wishes for their child to spend more time undergoing treatment than they have to. A child deserves to have as many moments as possible to freely enjoy growing up.

It is important to understand that the Ponseti Method for clubfoot correction – the gold standard that we recommend for most infants – is not fast. The entire process typically lasts from infancy to around 4-5 years of age.

However, this does not mean your child’s mobility will be severely limited throughout the entire length of treatment. There will still be ample time for joyful memories for you and your child during this time, and the investment made to ensure that treatment is performed properly and correctly will help ensure a future free from clubfoot!

We will be taking a closer look here at the different stages of the Ponseti Method for clubfoot correction and how long each section can take. However, times may vary from child to child depending on when treatment begins, the severity of the clubfoot, and other factors. We will always be happy to discuss any questions about clubfoot you may have with you directly, so please never hesitate to reach out to us.

Clubfoot Treatment, Part One – The Casting Phase

Casting is the method through which clubfoot in a child is gradually corrected. This does not cause a child pain, and will almost always eliminate the need for extensive surgical correction.

The feet are gently manipulated, then held in place with a plaster cast. Casts will typically encase the feet, ankles, and legs to the upper thighs.

The sooner this process can begin after birth, the better. Initial casts are usually worn for about a week before they are removed, the feet are repositioned, and a new cast is applied.

Typically, a total of 5-8 casts are applied this way, with a higher number of casts usually required for more severe cases of clubfoot. We might recommend that the final cast be worn for more than 1 week – often up to 3 weeks.

So, overall, casting may last around 10 weeks or 2.5 months.

For many children, a minor surgical procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon will be necessary around the time of the final casting. This might adjust the overall time frame of this phase. We are more than willing to discuss this procedure with you further.

a baby's foot being inspected

Clubfoot Treatment, Part Two – The Maintenance Phase

Once casting has shifted the feet to the correct position, that position must be maintained to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

This is technically the longest part of the treatment, and can initially be jarring for many parents due to the use of a brace to hold their child’s feet in place.

This brace takes the form of a metal bar that is held between the feet, which are placed in boots. This keeps the feet where they need to be, and it is very important that the brace is used appropriately as a child’s feet and legs continue to grow and develop.

The first part of brace wearing will likely be most difficult, as it will be required to be worn up to 22 hours per day. The good news is that this requirement only tends to last for a few months, and starts to get greatly reduced somewhere between 3-6 months of age.

Following this initial period, braces are typically required only overnight. It should not serve as any impediment as your child learns to walk, and they should still be able to develop their mobility right in step with other children.

As noted above, use of the brace can often be eliminated sometime 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 will be here to provide expert advice, guidance, and support.

We understand how stressful it may be at times to go on such a years-long journey with your child, and will not only help you and your child adjust to changes, but also help you access groups of other clubfoot families who know exactly what you’re going through. We have spent many years cultivating communities of clubfoot support, all to freely share with you.

If you have questions about clubfoot (or any other foot or ankle concern in your family whatsoever), we are here to help. Contact our Ladera Ranch office by calling (949) 364-9255 (WALK). You can also reach out to us by filling out our online contact form, and a member of our staff will respond during our standard office hours.

We are also happy to connect with you for a consultation via a telemedicine appointment when circumstances make it safer to do so – or if you just prefer the option! Feel free to bring up telemedicine when discussing appointments with our staff and we will do our best to accommodate you.