What is a clubfoot and what are its impacts?

A clubfoot is a disability of the foot that is normally existing at birth. It happens in approximately one per 1000 live births making it a reasonably common condition. When a baby is born the midwife or doctor will examine them for a number of different conditions as part of the screening routine. A clubfoot is one of those problems that they regularly look for. A clubfoot is defined as when the foot is in a downward and inward position compared to normal. This is technically known as planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is generally comparatively minor condition but still can be very distressing at the birth since it is obvious. 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 may also be more likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The treatment of a clubfoot is dependent upon the severity and nature of it. There are fundamentally two types of clubfoot; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot is normally managed by regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching out and then the foot is placed in a plaster cast to hold it in a more corrected position. After a period of time, that could rely 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 used after that to hold the foot in an much more corrected position. This process has been well researched to be typically quite effective. If this therapy is not successful or if the deformity is rigid then a surgical strategy is recommended. Technically this can be a complicated surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are plenty of structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that should be operated on to move the foot in to a more corrected position, making it complex.