What is a clubfoot?

A clubfoot is a disability of the foot that is normally present at birth. It happens in about one per 1000 live births making it a fairly frequent condition. When a baby arrives the midwife or doctor will examine them for many different conditions as part of the screening routine. A clubfoot is among those problems that they regularly search for. A clubfoot is described as when the foot is in a downward and inward position as compared with normal. This is technically called planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is normally fairly minor problem yet still can be quite stressful at the birth as it is visible. Usually, clubfoot is an isolated condition, but occasionally it is part of a range of symptoms making up a syndrome. Those with this deformity are usually more prone to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The treatment of a clubfoot will depend on the severity and nature of it. There are generally two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot is normally treated by regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching out and then the foot is placed in a plaster cast to hold it in a more corrected position. After a period of time, that will rely on how serious it is, the plaster cast is removed and the foot is yet again mobilized and stretched with a new plaster cast being applied after that to hold the foot in an even more corrected position. This process has been well documented to be normally very effective. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is inflexible then a surgical approach is advised. Technically this is a challenging surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are numerous structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that has to be operated on to move the foot in to a much more corrected position, making it challenging.