Clubfoot describes a range of foot abnormalities usually present at birth (congenital) in which your baby's foot is twisted out of shape or position. In clubfoot, the tissues connecting the muscles to the bone (tendons) are shorter than usual. The term "clubfoot" refers to the way the foot is positioned at a sharp angle to the ankle, like the head of a golf club. Clubfoot is a fairly common birth defect and is usually an isolated problem for an otherwise healthy newborn.

Clubfoot can be mild or severe. About half of children with clubfoot have it in both feet. If your child has clubfoot, it will make it hard for him or her to walk normally, so doctors generally recommend treating it soon after birth.

Doctors are usually able to treat clubfoot successfully, though sometimes children need follow-up surgery later on.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

If your child has clubfoot, his or her foot may have the following appearance:

  • The top of the foot is usually twisted downward and inward, increasing the arch and turning the heel inward.
  • The foot may be turned so severely that it actually looks as if it's upside down.
  • The calf muscles in the affected leg are usually underdeveloped.
  • The affected foot may be up to 1/2 inch (about 1 centimeter) shorter than the other foot.

Despite its look, however, clubfoot itself doesn't cause any discomfort or pain.

When to see a doctor

More than likely your doctor will notice clubfoot soon after your child is born, based on appearance. You'll likely be advised on the most appropriate treatment.

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