Clubfoot is a deformity occurring in approximately 1 in 1,000 births. It causes one or both feet to turn sharply downward and/or inward. Although the condition is painless, it needs to be addressed as early as possible to prevent disability when the child attempts to walk.
Clubfoot can be corrected in early infancy with good results by using the Ponseti method, in which a physician manipulates the foot gently toward the proper position and then puts a cast over the leg to keep it steady. By repeating the manipulating and casting process for a month or two, the foot is progressively encouraged to turn the right way. Once the proper alignment is achieved, it is maintained with the aid of a brace worn at night for two years.
Most infants who are treated with the Ponseti method respond well enough not to need an operation. For the small minority who do need surgery to shape the foot, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon can lengthen selected tendons and ligaments and reposition the foot and ankle bones. Once the surgical incision is sutured, a cast or splint keeps the foot steady while it heals.
Even after being successfully treated for Clubfoot, patients should be periodically examined throughout their growing years in case the condition recurs. Fortunately, most patients are able to walk and run, displaying minimal evidence of having had Clubfoot. The foot and calf of the affected leg usually are a bit smaller than the foot and calf of the unaffected leg.
To learn more about pediatric orthopaedic conditions, please refer to the following organizations: