What is Metatarsus Adductus?

Metatarsus adductus is a common foot deformity that affects approximately 1 out of 1000 children at birth.

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Overview

Metatarsus adductus is a common foot deformity in infants and young children where the front part of the foot (forefoot) turns inward, towards the midline of the body.

Babies with metatarsus adductus may be at risk of developing future conditions, such as symptomatic bunions and developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), characterised by the femur slipping in and out of the hip socket, potentially leading to join dislocation. Seeking care from a qualified paediatric podiatrist is crucial for early intervention, ensuring the best possible outcome and preventing the development of secondary issues.

The altered alignment of the forefoot, over a prolonged period of time, can exert increased stress on the other joints potentially resulting in conditions like early-onset osteoarthritis. While this condition may not cause immediate pain, symptoms may emerge over time.

Risk Factors For Metatarsus Adductus

  • Breech position while the fetus is developing intrauterine
  • Low amniotic fluid while the fetus is developing intrauterine
  • Family history of metatarsus adductus

Parents should promptly seek professional advice if they suspect metatarsus adductus in their child. While some cases self-resolve, others may have lasting effects impacting the child's mobility. A podiatrist will conduct a comprehensive assessment, including a review of family history and a physical examination. Specialised imaging, such as X-rays or MRIs, may be used to assess the extent and severity of the condition, facilitating a more precise and suitable approach.

How is Metatarsus Adductus Managed?

Managing metatarsus adductus depends on the severity and age of the child when the condition is identified. For cases observed at birth, specialised serial casting can be applied to correct the foot alignment. If identified after the child starts walking, the use of paediatric ankle foot orthotics (AFOs) or custom foot orthotics may be recommended as a long-term solution to support and guide the foot. This will help to evenly distribute the body’s weight to avoid overloading and damaging the small joints.

Parents are encouraged to consult a healthcare professional if they suspect their child has metatarsus adductus. Early diagnosis and appropriate intervention can help address the condition and prevent potential complications as the child grows.

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Common Symptoms

A curved “C” shape in your child’s foot
Increased pain in areas of abrasion and pressure
Increased pain with a rise in activity level and shoe wearing
Forefoot is rotated inwards
Outside of the foot is rounded

How It Looks Like

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Related Conditions

FAQs

How Do I Know If My Child Has Metatarsus Adductus?

While in a standing position, you child’s feet will not connect with the ground straight on but in a slanted manner due to the curved “C” shape of the soles. If your child is already walking in shoes, they may have calluses on the outside of their feet due to pressure from a supinated walking style. Be sure to get your child examined by a podiatrist if you have noticed unusual callus spots as this can cause additional pain or discomfort while walking or be indicative of a biomechanical issue.

When Should I Start Addressing Metatarsus Adductus?

Metatarsus adductus should be addressed as soon as it is diagnosed. Early intervention is key, and the younger the child is, the more malleable their bones will be, making them more receptive to guided growth from an orthotic or custom-made device.

Will Massages Or Braces Correct The Shape Of My Baby’s Foot?

Unfortunately, massages will not change the shape or improve the development of your child’s feet. While a massage will help alleviate any tightness or soreness your child may be experiencing from their daily activities, it needs to be applied in conjunction with a brace or support to accurately guide the growth of your child’s feet.

Will Metatarsus Adductus Go Away On Its Own?

This depends on the severity of the case. Metatarsus adductus will resolve on its own in some mild situations but severe cases will require immediate attention and care. While some paediatricians may recommend the “wait and see” approach, this could cause your child’s feet to become stiff and deformed or develop secondary conditions like bunions and/or DDH in the future. Seeking prompt intervention upon the appearance of problematic metatarsus adductus symptoms increases the likelihood of a successful resolution without the need for invasive surgery options in the future.

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