Clubfoot is when the foot turns inward and downward. It is seen at birth.
Alternative NamesTalipes equinovarus; Talipes
Clubfoot is the most common disorder of the legs that children are born with. It can range from mild and flexible to severe and rigid.
The cause is not known, but the condition may be inherited in some cases. Risk factors include a family history of the disorder and being male. It occurs in about 1 per 1,000 live births.
The physical appearance may vary.
- One or both feet may be affected.
- The foot turns inward and downward at birth, resisting realignment.
- The calf muscle and the foot may be slightly smaller than normal.
Exams and Tests
The disorder is identified during a physical examination. A foot x-ray may be performed.
A clubfoot may be treated by moving the foot into the correct position and using a cast to keep it there. This is often done by an orthopedic specialist. The treatment should be started as early as possible -- ideally, shortly after birth -- when reshaping the foot is easiest.
Gentle manipulation (stretching) and recasting occurs every week to improve the position of the foot. Generally, 5 to 10 casts are needed. The final cast remains in place for 3 weeks. After the foot is in the correct position, a special brace is worn nearly full-time for 3 months. After, it is used at night and during naps for up to 3 years.
Often, a simple outpatient procedure is needed to release a tightened Achilles tendon.
Some severe cases of clubfoot will require surgery if other treatments do not work or if the problem returns. The child should be monitored by a doctor until the foot is fully grown.
The outcome is usually good with treatment.
Some defects may not be able to be fully fixed. But, with treatment, the appearance and function of the foot can be improved. The treatment may be less successful if the clubfoot is linked to other birth disorders.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
If your child is being treated for clubfoot, call your health care provider if swelling, bleeding, or change in color of the toes occurs under the cast, if the toes disappear into the cast, if the cast slides off, or if the foot begins to turn in again after treatment.