Anticipation is the name of the game during the nine months that precede the birth of a child. Expectant dads and moms choose names, room décor, and shop for the most up-to-date baby gear. After all of the waiting, many parents are surprised and dismayed when their baby is born with a foot deformity. However, most congenital foot conditions are treatable when addressed immediately after birth.
Metatarsus adductus (MTA), also known as metatarsus varus, is not uncommon. Its name seems complicated, but the condition is simply characterized by the front of the foot turning inward. The rest of the foot is in the proper position, including the heel. The cause of this deformity is unknown. Many believe that it has to do with the way that the baby is turned while in the mother’s womb. In some cases, the condition has been present in other family members as well. Both boys and girls can be affected, and with this deformity comes an increased risk of hip dysplasia.
Every newborn is examined closely by their physician. Common congenital foot deformities are apparent during this physical exam. The doctor will note whether or not the foot can be moved into its normal position. If it is flexible, the foot will be monitored with the expectation that it will correct on its own.
If the foot cannot be placed in the correct position by gentle hand manipulation, more diagnostic measures will be needed. It is likely that x-rays will be taken of the affected foot, so that an appropriate treatment plan can be made. The good news is that most cases fall into the flexible category.
Remember that you are your child’s best advocate for good health. Take time to educate yourself about this and any other foot concerns by visiting our patient library. When you have questions, contact us to ask and request follow-up information to clear up any confusion.
The goal of treating MTA is placing the foot in its appropriate position. If your child’s foot is flexible, the care team may choose a “wait and see” approach. However, a simple home exercise plan that involves stretching may also be recommended. Also, note your infant’s sleeping position. All babies should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS (unless advised differently by a physician). This is also helpful in the correction of Metatarsus adductus since the feet are often turned in when a baby sleeps on the stomach.
For cases where the foot is not flexible, casting may be attempted prior to any invasive treatments such as surgery. Long casts are used to manipulate the front of the foot. This process can be intense since the casts must be changed frequently (every 1-2 weeks). A special shoe is also used in straightening process. If the foot does not respond to this method, the involved joints may have to be addressed surgically. Casting will still be required after the procedure.
The diagnosis of a foot deformity at your child’s birth can be overwhelming, however, you’re not alone! Drs. Joel Brook and David Northcutt will walk with you every step of the way. Schedule a visit at one of our offices today to learn more about available treatment options for common pediatric conditions. With convenient locations in Dallas and Plano, TX offices, our expert staff is ready to serve you.