Foot conditions that may be rare elsewhere are not rare here. We treat thousands of patients each year with congenital foot deformities.
While not all foot deformities are painful, if not treated early enough, they can affect a child’s development, including their ability to walk and perform daily tasks. Shriners Children’s is where children with congenital foot deformities receive comprehensive medical care from caring, compassionate physicians and care teams.
Our physicians diagnose and treat all types of pediatric congenital foot deformities in children, from newborns to teens and young adults. We'll work with you to find the right way to correct your child’s congenital foot deformity, so they can develop normally and reach their full potential. Maybe your child's goals, or your goals for your child, include walking and playing, running and throwing a football, riding a bicycle, or just doing what they want without pain or discomfort. We'll help them get there.
What are Congenital Foot Deformities?
Congenital (means the child was born with the condition) foot deformities can affect feet, toes and/or ankles. Many congenital foot deformities are common, like clubfoot; 1 in 1,000 children are born each year with a clubfoot. Other common congenital foot deformities include vertical talus, tarsal coalition, polydactyly, macrodactyly and cleft foot. Some congenital foot deformities have a genetic background, which means someone in your direct family history had the gene that caused the condition, and it was passed to your child.
Treating Congenital Foot Deformities
Often, we use techniques that take advantage of the plasticity (the ability to be molded) of child's foot, including casting, manipulation and splinting to address a foot deformity. Our approach help preserve the growth potential of a child's foot and minimize scarring and stiffness over more aggressive surgery.
With everything you need in a single location, you child’s congenital foot deformity needs can be met in one place, often without leaving the facility.
Personalized Care Across Generations
The special relationship we have with the children we treat for congenital foot deformities lasts far after we've stopped treating them. We often have parents bring their children to Shriners Children’s for congenital foot deformity treatment after receiving treatment here when they were children.
Below you’ll find additional information related to treating pediatric congenital foot deformities at Shriners Children’s.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
Leaders in Congenital Foot Deformity Treatment and Research
Our physicians, surgeons and care teams have decades of experience treating children with congenital foot deformities. This includes Haluk Altiok, M.D., who specializes in treating foot deformities in children and runs a number of specialty clinics in spina bifida, cerebral palsy and arthrogryposis.
Shriners Children’s physicians and staff are involved in groundbreaking research in many areas, including studies that allow us to better understand a condition and the long-term effectiveness of specific treatments. Peter Smith, M.D., for example, conducted long-term follow up studies of adults who had clubfoot treatment as children. Working with our state-of-the-art motion analysis centers, he and his team compared the strength and foot pressure of people walking. Their research found that the Ponseti method for treating clubfoot had better results in adults compared with a treatment called comprehensive surgical release.
Collaborating on New Treatments
Recently, Shriners Children’s and Georgia Tech announced a partnership to address conditions such as clubfoot in children. Future work together includes developing devices to improve movement and function.
Specialists in Clubfoot Care
With clubfoot, a child’s foot is twisted inward or downward. Clubfoot can happen in one or both feet and be mild or severe. Clubfoot is diagnosed during pregnancy with an ultrasound, or with a clinical exam when a child is born. It's not preventable but treatment is highly successful.
In the past, surgery was the primary treatment for clubfoot. However, the Ponseti method, a significant method of clubfoot treatment at Shriners Children’s, allows us to correct it without surgery. With a combination of manipulation, gentle stretching and casting, and a brace holding the foot in the corrected position, the Ponseti method allows the physician to preserve the elasticity and flexibility of the foot with minimal surgery. This technique can be much more effective for clubfoot than surgery, providing better long-term satisfaction, functional outcomes and less pain for the child.
Surgery for Congenital Foot Deformities
Our pediatric surgical teams are specially trained to care for children of all ages. If your child needs surgery for their congenital foot deformity, our pediatric orthopedic surgeons will discuss all options and aspects of surgery with you and help you choose the right treatment and follow-up plan. The type of surgery will depend on the specifics of your child’s situation.
Surgery for congenital foot deformities is typically minimally invasive. It's often performed during a child’s first year, before they really start to walk, so they have the chance to develop normally.
Preparing for your Child’s Congenital Foot Deformities Appointments
Start by gathering medical records and documents and anything else that could be important for our healthcare team to see. This can include:
- X-rays or other diagnostic images and/or reports
- Your child’s primary care and referring physicians' names, addresses, and phone and fax numbers
- Any assistive devices your child may use (or is no longer using), such as braces, a walker and/or a wheelchair
Before your Visit
Ask yourself a few questions that will better prepare you to speak with your child's physician and care team. Why are you bringing your child to Shriners Children’s for treatment of their congenital foot deformity? What’s your goal? Does your child have challenges, physically or emotionally, or do you worry they will have challenges as they get older, that you would like to improve?
Your Child’s First Congenital Foot Deformity Appointment
You and your child will see a physician who is experienced in treating congenital foot deformities. Based on their recommendations, you may see other specialists the same day, such as radiology and imaging, motion analysis, orthotics and prosthetics, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
To create the right treatment plan for your child’s congenital foot deformity, we’ll examine their feet in detail, while asking questions to better understand your child’s specific situation, including what treatment, if any, your child had since they were born. We may also need to take measurements and X-rays.
Children are not “little adults.” Your child’s care plan will be customized to meet their specific needs, considering their age and development. Any follow-up appointments for treatment are included in that plan, which we may need to adjust as treatment moves forward.
Shriners Children’s Clubfoot Work Around the World
In addition to treating children from around the world with clubfoot and other congenital foot disorders, our pediatric orthopedic surgeons partner with other Shriners Children’s specialists, like those who traveled to set up clubfoot treatment programs and motion analysis centers and others who went to Colombia, for example, to teach others how to treat children using the Ponseti method.
I had no idea if my child would ever crawl, walk, lift his arms or enjoy a ‘normal’ life, but because of the care Chase has received…we have a child who runs, rides a bike, plays sports, swims and does so much more.