Clubfoot is a common foot deformity that affects a child’s bones, muscles and tendons. It causes the heel to point down while the front of the foot turns inward. About 50% of children with clubfoot have bilateral clubfeet—meaning both feet.

If a child has a family history of clubfeet, they are more likely to be born with a clubfoot themselves. It is not a painful condition for babies. Most children who receive early treatment are able to run, play and function normally.

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What are the signs and symptoms of a clubfoot?

With all cases of clubfoot, heels will point downward while the front of the foot points inward.

There are additional signs of clubfoot if only one foot is affected:

  • Calf muscle is smaller on affected leg
  • Short and wide foot on affected side
  • Leg on the affected side may be shorter than the other side

What causes clubfoot?

In most cases, the exact cause of clubfoot is unknown. A genetic component is likely.

Doctors can determine the cause of clubfoot in some cases. Causes include birth defects, medical conditions or awkward foot position in utero.

How is a clubfoot diagnosed?

Clubfoot is often diagnosed at birth based on the shape and positioning of an infant’s foot. Sometimes ultrasounds lead to a diagnosis of clubfoot before birth.

X-rays are rare and usually not needed.

How is a clubfoot treated?

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s condition. Non-surgical options to treat clubfeet include:

  • The Ponseti method (which includes stretching and casting)
  • Taping or splinting the affected area
  • Braces
  • Physical therapy

Surgery for a clubfoot is only necessary when other treatments are ineffective. The type of surgery depends on the extent of their condition.

All physicians at Connecticut Children’s are certified and trained in the Ponseti method of care. Additionally, Connecticut Children’s offers a world-class motion analysis lab to diagnose complex walking abnormalities. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can determine the right plan to treat your child’s clubfoot.