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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

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 mix of genetic and the environment.

Achilles Tendon and Related Muscles
Achilles Tendon action
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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.

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

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

RESOURCES

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

Ortho Info—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. 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.

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