A clubfoot is a deformity of the foot which are present at birth. It happens in approximately one per 1000 live births making it a fairly frequent condition. When a baby arrives the midwife or doctor will examine them for several different conditions as part of the screening procedure. A clubfoot is one of those problems that they regularly check for. A clubfoot is defined as when the foot is in a downward and inward position compared to normal. This is technically generally known as planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is normally fairly minor condition however can be rather distressing at the birth as it is visible. Often, it is an isolated problem, but occasionally it is part of a range of signs and symptoms making up a syndrome. Babies with this deformity will also be more likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.
The management of a clubfoot would depend on the seriousness and characteristics of it. There are fundamentally two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot is frequently treated with regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching out and then the foot is put into a plaster cast to hold it in a more corrected position. After a period of time, that will depend on how serious it is, the plaster cast is taken off and the foot is yet again mobilized and stretched with a new plaster cast being applied and then to hold the foot in an much more corrected position. This process has been well documented to be commonly quite effective. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is rigid then a surgical approach is indicated. Technically this can be a challenging surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are numerous structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that have to be operated on to move the foot in to a much more corrected position, making it complicated.