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Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot

(Last Updated On: April 4, 2019)

Chances are, you’re here because you suspect child has Metatarsus Adductus or Clubfoot and you want to know the difference between the two.

You’re not alone.

These foot conditions affect 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 births.

Let’s dive in.


Definitions

Metatarsus Adductus Definition

This is a foot defect where the upper foot inclusive of the fingers turns sideways toward the inner side. Also known as Forefoot Varus, this condition affects at least 1 child in every 1,000 births.

Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot
image attribution: eastcoastpodiatry.sg

Though the condition is not as common, there are various treatments that have been proven to be effective in correcting this condition. In some instances, the condition corrects itself and the feet appear normal by the time the baby is around two months old.

Even in mild cases, it is always advisable to consult professionals. It has been found that when left untreated, Metatarsus Adductus can lead to dysplasia of hip later in life.

Metatarsus Adductus Pictures

metatarsus adductus
image attribution: https://www.healio.com/
metatarsus adductus
image attribution: https://www.healio.com/

Clubfoot

Otherwise known as talipes equinovarus, clubfoot is a congenital condition where the feet are turned inwards in a kidney-like shape. With clubfoot, the sole faces the other foot while the heel and forefoot are curved to the inside.

Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot
image attribution: maylclinic.org

Just like with Metatarsus Adductus, clubfoot is classified among treatable conditions. Whether a child has the deformity on one or both feet, the defect can be corrected using a variety of treatments.

Between these two conditions, clubfoot is considered to be more serious. As such, treatment is more intrusive. That said, it is important to note that both are treatable especially when addressed early on.


Causes

In the past, it was believed that these conditions were caused by breech position when the baby was in the mother’s womb. However, research has shown no proof of this.

Both Metatarsus Adductus and clubfoot are idiopathic conditions. This means that there is no known causative factor.

However, there are a few risk factors to be aware of for both conditions.

These factors include:

  • Family history. These conditions have a genetic basis
  • Smoking during pregnancy. If a woman with a history of clubfoot smokes during pregnancy, her child is twenty times more likely to be born with feet defects.
  • Being male. Boys are more likely to be born with these feet defects while compared to girls.

Diagnosis

In most cases, no tests are required to determine whether a child has Metatarsus Adductus or clubfoot. These conditions are quite apparent at birth. Clubfoot can also be diagnosed before birth through ultrasound.

Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot
image attribution: clubfootchronicles.blogspot.com

In some cases, physicians may do an x-ray. This is usually done to determine the severity of the condition. Some severe conditions may warrant surgery especially when it is found that the non-intrusive treatment methods are not working.


Treatment

Metatarsus Adductus

Mild cases of Metatarsus Adductus are often left untreated as they tend to correct themselves without any medical intervention.

Moderate to Extreme cases of this condition are treated in different ways. Common treatments include:

Exercises

Exercises help a great deal with this condition. It is advisable that a professional assist with the stretching exercises on a regular basis.

One exercise you may want to try is to gently move the front of your baby’s foot outward, into a straight position. Hold for a few seconds or longer, based on the comfortability level of your baby.

metatarsus adductus
image attribution: rch.org.au

You may also find the stretches demonstrated in the video below helpful.

Special Shoes for Metatarsus Adductus

These special shoes are designed to align the affected foot to the correct position. A child should wear these shoes most of the time. Talk to your podiatrist or medical provider for more specific info.

Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot
image attribution: unfo-med.com

Casting

This treatment is designed for clubfoot but may be used in the treatment of severe Metatarsus Adductus. A cast has to be changed every two or so weeks. One disadvantage is that it cannot be removed at home and most children cry in discomfort when the cast is in place or when it is being removed.

Click here to learn more about casting for Metatarsus Adductus.

Clubfoot

Ponseti Method

Metatarsus Adductus vs. Clubfoot
image attribution: clubfootclub.org

This treatment involves a series of stretching and casting procedures. Usually, the foot is put in a cast to align it to normal position. Once this is done, routine stretching is done to stretch the muscles and ensure that the affected feet remain properly aligned.

Click here to learn more about the Ponseti Treatment.

Click here for a list of questions you should ask your doctor about the Ponseti Treatment.

French Method

This treatment involves stretching and taping. Adhesive tapes are used to take the affected foot to the right position on a daily basis. This together with stretching exercises work to align the foot. Thereafter, braces and special shoes may be used to maintain the aligned foot.

Click here to learn more about the French Method.

Surgery

Surgery is done when the affected foot does not respond to non-surgical procedures. Surgery is effective in correcting the tight ligaments and tendons that prevent normal foot alignment.

While afoot with Metatarsus Adductus will appear normal after treatment, the same may not be the case for clubfoot. In some cases, the foot with clubfoot may be shorter or deformed. Surgery works to correct any deformities that other treatments could not cure.


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