Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Relapse Concerns

My 2 year old son - front & back view of his legs

I've been much more involved in clubfeet support groups going through all of this a second time, and I've heard many more stories about relapse. The leg braces are supposed to over correct the feet and once they stop wearing them the feet start to turn back inward. But it's supposed to stop at the normal neutral position. That doesn't always happen.... sometimes it just keeps turning and turning and suddenly your child is walking on the side of his/her foot. My son's left foot has always rolled a little to the outside, and our doctor has assured us that when his feet get to a more neutral position it'll naturally fix itself. He's only been out of braces for about 5 months.

One thing that has been bothering me is other parents being surprised that my son did not receive the tenotomy surgery (cutting of the achilles tendon). They are surprised/confused because they had been told that without a tenotomy there was a 100% guarantee of a relapse. This concerns me on two levels - first off... is my son doomed to start the whole process over again? And/Or second... these poor family's who put their children through surgery when it may not be necessary!

I am posting the photos and video in the hopes that those who have gone through a relapse might weigh in their opinions. Is there anyone who did not have a tenotomy who was able to avoid a relapse? I don't believe my son is relapsing right now, his legs are more forward facing than they were 5 months ago when he stopped using the braces - and our doctor wasn't concerned about how they roll onto the sides slightly. BUT - I am willing to listen to criticism/opinions as I know that doctors are not always right.

EDIT 1/3/2011: We spoke with the doctor and my sons feet are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. A relapse would actually be rolling the complete opposite way, so that the outside edge of his foot is on the bottom. Whew! Feeling a little silly for not thinking it through, but glad we got some answers.


  1. My baby has been cast as per the Ponseti Method, by a Ponseti trained doctor. He is now in braces 23 hours a day. He did not have a tenotomy as his clubfoot was in a good position. I was concerned, but my doctor told me that the chances of relapse are about the same, regardless of whether a tenotomy was performed or not (this assumes the foot is fully over-corrected without the tenotomy - if it isn't, then a tenotomy is required). I have a website with details of his treatment.