Clubfoot is an abnormality where one or both of the feet are turned inward and outward. This deformity is present at birth and is fairly common. In more than half of children born with clubfoot, the condition is present in both feet. Clubfoot impacts the ability to walk normally, so treatment usually occurs soon after birth.


In clubfoot, the tissues connecting the muscles to the bone are shorter than usual, causing the foot to twist out of shape. Researchers are still unsure what causes clubfoot to develop in the womb. It is most likely a combination of genetics and environment. Boys are twice as likely to develop clubfoot.


A clubfoot is usually twisted downward and inward, causing the arch to increase and the heel to turn inward. One leg may appear slightly shorter and the calf muscles in the leg are often underdeveloped. Despite its abnormal appearance, clubfoot is not painful.


Physicians will diagnose clubfoot soon after the child is born. The child may be referred to a pediatric orthopedist that specializes in bone and muscle abnormalities in infants.


Treatment for clubfoot usually begins within one to two weeks of birth because a newborn’s bones and tendons are very flexible. It is essential that treatment occurs before the child learns to walk. The Ponseti method, which is a series of casts that gradually straighten the foot, may be effective in most cases. In severe cases, or if the baby does not respond to corrective treatment, surgery could be required.

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