Clubfoot (talipes equinovarus)

The medical name for clubfoot is congenital talipes equinovarus. It’s a condition that happens in approximately 1 in 1000 births. It happens more often in boys than girls.

Causes of clubfoot

We don’t know what causes clubfoot, but it probably happens because the baby’s bones and ligaments don’t develop normally while the baby is in the womb.

Clubfoot has a tendency to run in families.

Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of clubfoot in babies.

Clubfoot symptoms

If your baby has clubfoot, his foot points downwards, with the sole twisting inwards and curving around. The condition might affect one or both feet. Your baby might also have poorly developed calf muscles and smaller feet. You can see this more easily when only one foot is affected.

There’s also another less serious condition called postural talipes equinovarus, in which the affected foot also points downward and twists inwards. But unlike clubfoot, this deformity is only mild. It usually fixes itself without treatment.

Treatment for clubfoot

If your child has clubfoot, she’ll see a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon. Treatment to correct your child’s foot position will usually begin soon after birth. It involves using special splints or plaster casts to hold the foot in a straight position.

Careful follow-up is essential, because the condition might come back. Sometimes children with clubfoot need surgery.

With early specialist treatment, most children born with clubfoot will eventually wear normal shoes and lead active lives, including participating in sports.

Turned foot (talipes calcaneovalgus)

Turned foot is a more common foot deformity than clubfoot. It’s usually nothing to worry about. Like clubfoot, we don’t know what causes turned foot.

Symptoms of turned foot

If your child has turned foot, the toes on his foot are turned upwards towards his shin. There’s usually a sharp bend in his ankle, and the whole foot is turned to the outside. This is the most common foot abnormality in newborns.

Treatment for turned foot

In most cases, turned foot fixes itself within six months, and babies don’t need any treatment. Occasionally, babies need to have their feet stretched and splinted.

Children with turned foot sometimes also have developmental dysplasia of the hip. If your child has turned foot, doctors will check her hips carefully.