What is clubfoot?

Clubfoot: Overview

Clubfoot is a term that describes a range of unusual positions of a newborn's foot. It is usually diagnosed after birth based on how the foot looks and moves.

Having clubfoot may run in the family. Or it can be caused by certain health conditions. Sometimes it is the result of the position of the baby while it is developing before birth (postural clubfoot).

Treatment may start soon after birth with a cast on the affected foot (or feet) to hold it in position. This is repeated for up to several months. The foot is moved closer to the normal position with each visit. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

What are the symptoms of clubfoot?

Clubfoot is painless in a baby, but it can eventually cause discomfort and become a noticeable disability. Left untreated, clubfoot does not straighten itself out. The foot will remain twisted out of shape, and the affected leg may be shorter and smaller than the other.

These symptoms become more obvious and more of a problem as the child grows. There are also problems with fitting shoes and participating in normal play. Treatment that begins shortly after birth can help overcome these problems.

How is clubfoot treated?

Treatment starts soon after birth. Your doctor may try putting a cast or splint on the foot or feet first. This means the foot (or feet) is moved into the most normal position and held in that position until the next treatment. Treatment is repeated every few weeks for several weeks. The foot is moved a little closer toward a normal position at each visit.

Your doctor may do surgery if the cast or splint isn't working or if the foot is severely out of place. The most common surgeries repair ligaments and tendons, such as the heel cord (Achilles tendon). After surgery, a foot brace holds the foot in place while it heals. Your child may have physical therapy.

How is clubfoot diagnosed?

Clubfoot is usually diagnosed after an infant is born based on how the feet and legs look and move. But an ultrasound done before the baby is born can sometimes detect clubfoot.

How can you care for your child who has clubfoot?

Follow your doctor's instructions for taking care of the cast. When your child is given a brace, have them wear it exactly as your doctor recommends. Encourage your child. If older children don't want to wear the brace, encourage them to do so. Let them know that it will help their foot get better.

What causes clubfoot?

All of the causes of clubfoot are not well understood. It can develop because of the position of the baby while it is growing in the mother's uterus. Having other health conditions such as spina bifida can also cause clubfoot. It can also be the result of problems that affect the nerve, muscle, and bone systems, such as stroke or brain injury. Shortly after birth, your baby may be tested for some of these problems.

What is clubfoot?

Clubfoot (also called talipes equinovarus) is a general term used to describe a range of unusual positions of the foot. Most types are present at birth. It can happen in one foot or in both feet. In almost half of infants with clubfoot, both feet are involved.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.