Clubfoot
all information

Clubfoot

( ; Talipes)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition

Clubfoot is a deformity of the foot that causes the foot to turn inward. The Achilles tendon becomes taut, which pulls the heel upward toward the leg and prevents the foot from being able to sit flat on the ground. A club foot is usually smaller than a normal-sized foot.

Clubfoot occurs in about 1 in 1,000 children. Clubfoot does not indicate or cause other health conditions and is not thought to be caused by position in the womb.

Causes

Clubfoot is caused by a congenital deformity in the development of the muscles, tendons, and bones of the foot. However, why this occurs is unknown. There is some belief that clubfoot can be inherited in some cases.

Achilles Tendon and Related Muscles

Achilles Tendon action

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Because the cause of clubfoot is not understood, not many of the risk factors for this condition are known. However, some of the following factors increase your chance of developing clubfoot:

  • Being male
  • Having a family history of clubfoot

Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • At birth, one or both feet that:
    • Turn inward and downward, and will not straighten
    • Are slightly smaller than normal
  • Calf muscle slightly smaller than normal

Diagnosis

Clubfoot is easily diagnosed during a physical examination, but an x-ray of the foot will also be taken. The condition can often even be diagnosed before birth during an ultrasound examination.

Prenatal Ultrasound

Fetal Ultrasound

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Treatment

Clubfoot can be corrected, but it is best to start treatment as early as possible—even right after birth. Treatment options include:

Casting

With casting, the foot is manually manipulated by the doctor into a better position and placed in a series of casts. A new cast is put on every week for 5-10 weeks to stretch the soft tissues of the foot and reshape it.

After the initial casting procedure is completed, a brace is used and worn at night and during naps.

Surgery

Surgery may be done to correct the deformed tendons and muscles in very severe cases that do not respond to casting.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent clubfoot, as the cause of the congenital deformity is unknown.

RESOURCES:

American Orthopedic Foot Ankle Society
http://www.aofas.org/

US National Library of Medicine
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

BC Health Guide
http://www.bchealthguide.org/

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org/

References:

Children's clubfoot—treatment with casting or operation? American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/indepth/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=8&topcategory=Children . Accessed April 15, 2007.

Orthopedics: clubfoot. Children's Hospital and Medical Center website. Available at: http://orthopedics.seattlechildrens.org/conditions_treated/clubfoot.asp . Accessed April 15, 2007.

Pediatric orthopedic ailments: clubfoot. Massachusetts General Hospital Orthopedic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.massgeneral.org/ortho/ClubFoot.htm . Accessed April 15, 2007.



Last reviewed May 2008 by Robert E. Leach, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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