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Clubfoot is when the foot turns inward and downward. It is a congenital condition, which means it is present at birth.

Alternative Names of Club Foot are: Talipes equinovarus; Talipes.

Complications of Club Foot

Some defects may not be completely fixed. However, treatment can improve the appearance and function of the foot. Treatment may be less successful if the clubfoot is linked to other birth disorders.

Causes of Club Foot

  • Clubfoot is the most common congenital disorder of the legs. It can range from mild and flexible to severe and rigid.
  • The cause is not known, but the condition may be passed down through families in some cases. Risk factors include a family history of the disorder and being male. The condition occurs in about 1 out of every 1,000 live births.

Signs & Symptoms of Club Foot

  • The physical appearance of the foot may vary. One or both feet may be affected.
  • The foot turns inward and downward at birth, and is difficult to place in the correct position. The calf muscle and foot may be slightly smaller than normal.

Diagnosis of Club Foot

The disorder is identified during a physical examination. A foot x-ray may be done.

Treatments of Club Foot

  • Treatment may involve moving the foot into the correct position and using a cast to keep it there. This is often done by an orthopedic specialist. Treatment should be started as early as possible -- ideally, shortly after birth -- when reshaping the foot is easiest.
  • Gentle stretching and recasting occurs every week to improve the position of the foot. Generally, five 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. Then 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.

Prevention of Club Foot

Because the cause of clubfoot is unknown, you can't take absolute measures to prevent it. However, if you're pregnant, you can take steps to limit your baby's risk of birth defects, such as clubfoot: Don't smoke or spend time in smoky environments, consume alcohol, or use drugs not approved by your doctor.

When to seek Medical Advice

If your child is being treated for clubfoot, call your health care provider if:

  • The toes swell, bleed, or change color under the cast
  • The cast appears to be causing significant pain
  • The toes disappear into the cast
  • The cast slides off
  • The foot begins to turn in again after treatment

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