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Clubfoot is a type of birth defect that affects one in every 1,000 newborn babies. The term "clubfoot" refers to the position of one or both feet relative to the ankle; the foot is twisted out of position at a sharp angle in relation to the ankle, similar to the head of a golf club.
Clubfoot is not painful, but it is important to bring your child to see a physician for treatment. The deformity will not correct on its own.
The exact cause of clubfoot remains unknown.
The visible symptoms of clubfoot can be recognized almost immediately after birth; the foot is twisted downward and inward.
The clubfoot may be slightly smaller than the opposing foot and the calf muscles in the affected leg(s) are usually underdeveloped.
Clubfoot needs to be treated in order to prevent disability and difficulty walking in the future. The goal of clubfoot treatment is to move the foot into proper alignment.
Nonsurgical treatment of clubfoot can begin almost immediately after birth. Doctors begin by gently stretching the clubfoot and using a cast to hold it in the proper position. Every few weeks the cast is removed and the foot is stretched and recast. Once the foot reaches the proper position, special shoes or braces are used to keep the muscles in place.
Severe cases of clubfoot require surgical intervention. An orthopedic surgeon can adjust the tendons, ligaments, and joints in the foot and ankle to help move the foot into proper position. Following surgery, the child will need to wear a brace for about a year to prevent recurrence of the deformity.