What is a clubfoot?

A clubfoot is a disability of the foot that is usually existing at birth. It occurs in approximately one per 1000 live births making it a relatively common problem. When a baby is born the midwife or doctor will examine them for a number of different conditions as part of the screening procedure. A clubfoot is one of those conditions that they routinely look for. A clubfoot is defined as when the foot is in a downward and inward position compared to normal. This is technically called planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is generally relatively minor condition but still can be quite stressful at the birth because it is visible. Usually, it is an isolated condition, but sometimes it is part of a range of signs and symptoms making up a syndrome. Babies with this deformity may also be more likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The treatment of a clubfoot would depend on the severity and nature of it. There are basically two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot will likely be taken care of with regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching out and then the foot is put into a plaster cast to hold it in a more changed position. After a period of time, which 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 and then to hold the foot in an even more corrected position. This method has been well documented to be typically quite effective. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is inflexible then a surgical technique is indicated. Technically this can be a difficult surgery as the foot and structures are extremely small. There are so many structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that has got to be operated on to move the foot into a much more corrected position, making it difficult.