Definition

Clubfoot is a birth defect that causes the foot to turn in and point down. The tendons that connect the leg muscles to the foot are too short and tight. A clubfoot is usually smaller than a normal-sized foot.

Causes

The cause is not known. It may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Achilles Tendon and Related Muscles
Achilles Tendon action

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Risk Factors

Clubfoot is more common in men. It is also more common in people who have other family members with clubfoot.

Symptoms

A clubfoot appears at birth and may affect one or both feet. The foot may:

  • Turn inward and downward, and will not straighten
  • Have a deep crease on the bottom
  • Be slightly smaller than normal
  • Have a calf muscle that is slightly smaller

Diagnosis

A clubfoot is diagnosed at birth based on how the foot looks. It may also be diagnosed before birth during an ultrasound.

Prenatal Ultrasound
Fetal Ultrasound

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Treatment

The goal of treatment is to correct the foot so the child can walk with it flat on the ground. Treatment needs to be started early. Options are:

  • A series of casts to stretch the tissues of the foot and reshape it
  • A brace to keep the foot from twisting back to where it was before casting

Children with severe clubfoot may need surgery. It can help repair deformed tendons and muscles.

Prevention

There are no guidelines to prevent clubfoot. The cause is not known.

RESOURCES:

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

OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
https://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://whenithurtstomove.org

REFERENCES:

Clubfoot. Johns Hopkins website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/clubfoot. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Clubfoot. KidsHealth—Nemours Foudation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/clubfoot.html. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Clubfoot. Massachusetts General Hospital Orthopedic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.massgeneral.org/ortho-childrens/conditions-treatments/clubfoot.aspx. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Clubfoot. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00255. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Clubfoot. Seattle Children's website. Available at: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/clubfoot. Accessed September 17, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD  Last Updated: 9/17/2020