This month we’re focusing on joint and bone disorders – two of the most common disabilities we see at Shepherd’s Field. And the two most common ailments? Arthrogryposis and clubfoot.
Arthrogryposis – Arthrogryposis (arth-ro-grip-OH-sis), also called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), is a term used to describe a variety of conditions involving multiple joint contractures (or stiffness). A contracture is a condition where the range of motion of a joint is limited. For example, it may be unable to fully or partially extend or bend.
While there is no cure, quality of life can be improved through therapy and using adaptive aids. Experts recommend both physical and occupational therapy to improve the range of motion and foster independence. Sometimes surgery is also recommended to lengthen tendons, remodel joints, lengthen limbs or even correct the spine. The severity varies, so each case is unique. About one baby in 3,000 is born with AMC.
Clubfoot – Clubfoot is often caused by a shortened Achilles tendon, which causes the foot to turn in and under, and affects twice as many boys as girls. One foot or both feet point down and in, and the toes point toward the opposite leg – the bottom of the feet face inward. Treatment – sometimes surgery – is needed to correct this condition.
A clubfoot cannot be straightened by simply moving it around. The tendons on the back and inside of the foot and ankle are shorter than typical, while the tendons on the front and outside are too long and stretched out. In the U.S., treatment usually begins one week after birth. The doctor uses a series of castings, followed by bracing. If treatment doesn’t start this early, a series of surgeries are needed. The long-term prognosis is good, with most children eventually wearing regular shoes and participating in normal daily activities and sporting events.
Over the years, many children with clubfoot have called Shepherd’s Field home. Your donations have provided surgery and therapy for Charlie, Aubrey, Robert, Samuel, and dozens of others. To learn more about arthrogryposis or clubfoot, check out seattlechildrens.org or hopkinsmedicine.org.