Getting the Help you Need
Steps is the national charity working for all those whose lives are affected by lower limb conditions
Everything we do is about valuing and supporting individuals, families and carers affected by conditions which have an impact on the legs, hips or feet.
Diagnosis During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an exciting but worrying time and finding out during an antenatal scan that there is a possible problem with their baby is every parent’s nightmare. There are several conditions that affect the legs and feet which may be identified during pregnancy scanning, although not formally diagnosed until after birth.
The most common of these conditions is Talipes or Congenital Talipes Equinovarus, also known as clubfoot. As its name suggests, it affects the feet and affects around 1 in 1000 births. It usually occurs in isolation (not usually related to any other condition).
Treatment will depend on whether the condition is ‘fixed’ or ‘positional’, but this will not become known until after the baby is born. In both cases, correction is minimally invasive and surgical intervention under anaesthetic is very rare. Steps have produced a publication about talipes and a film about the Ponseti method of treatment, which is the recommended, most commonly practised and most successful treatment for the condition.
Short Leg Bones
Other, rarer conditions identified during pregnancy affect the growth of the leg bones. There are three main long bones in the leg: the longest, the thigh bone, is known as the femur; of the two bones in the lower leg, the thicker one is called the tibia and the thinner one is the fibula. A problem with the growth of one of these bones, can be caused by a range of conditions where the bones in the leg are shortened, incorrectly formed or absent at birth.
Many cases are picked up at routine antenatal scans, around 12 or 20 weeks of pregnancy, when the femur length is measured and other limb abnormalities can be visually checked for. Other cases do not present until soon after birth or even later, when a child is learning to walk. Steps have produced a publication about Leg Length Difference and individual fact sheets about Fibular Hemimelia, PFFD and Tibial Hemimelia. These are some of the more ‘common’ of the rarer conditions.
Conditions Diagnosed in Childhood
Following a diagnosis or the indication of a problem, it’s normal to feel shock, sadness and even anger. It’s important to take time to think, to absorb the news and to accept your new circumstances. Initial concerns may diminish as you start to learn more about your child’s condition. Your medical team are an essential first point of contact and will be on hand to answer your questions and help you understand your next steps.
Your fears about the reactions of friends and family will fade as the day-to-day practicality of having a new-born take over. Soon you’ll accept that while your child’s condition is unwelcome, it is just a small part of the much bigger journey that you are starting as a family.
Whether you need condition-specific information, practical guidance or emotional support, our helpline is here to help you. We are the UK’s only national charity which supports the most common and much rarer conditions affecting the legs, hips and feet. Our valuable experience and respected medical board can help families make confident and informed decisions at what can be a confusing and difficult time.
We offer a wide range of services to help and support all those affected by childhood lower limb conditions. We are continually reviewing and developing resources, including condition guides and informative videos.
If you are affected by, or would like to learn more about the conditions we support, please call our helpline on 01925 750271.
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