What is a clubfoot?

A clubfoot is a disability of the foot that is usually existing at birth. It occurs in about one per 1000 live births making it a reasonably frequent condition. When a baby arrives the midwife or doctor will examine them for many different conditions as part of the screening protocol. A clubfoot is just one of those conditions that they regularly check for. A clubfoot is described as when the foot is in a downward and inward position in comparison to normal. This is technically referred to as planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is usually fairly minor problem yet still can be rather upsetting at the birth because it is visible. Often, it's an isolated problem, but from time to time it is part of a range of signs and symptoms making up a syndrome. Babies with this deformity will also be very likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The treatment of a clubfoot would depend on the seriousness and nature of it. There are essentially two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot will likely be managed by regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching and then the foot is placed in a plaster cast to hold it in a more corrected position. After a period of time, that can depend 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 method has been well researched to be frequently very successful. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is rigid then a surgical approach is indicated. Technically this can be a difficult surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are plenty of structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that should be operated on to move the foot into a more corrected position, making it intricate.