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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.


The cause is not known. It may be a mix of genetic and the environment.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in men. It is also more common in people with other family members who have it.

Smoking during pregnancy may raise the risk.


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


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


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.


Women who are pregnant may lower the risk of this problem in their child by not smoking.


American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


Health Canada

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation


Clubfoot. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Clubfoot. Johns Hopkins website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/clubfoot. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Clubfoot. KidsHealth—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/clubfoot.html. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Clubfoot. Massachusetts General Hospital Orthopedic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.massgeneral.org/ortho-childrens/conditions-treatments/clubfoot.aspx. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Clubfoot. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00255. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Clubfoot. Seattle Children's website. Available at: https://www.seattlechildrens.org/conditions/clubfoot. Accessed December 10, 2020.

Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC  Last Updated: 5/26/2021