What is a clubfoot and what are its impacts on the child?

A clubfoot is a disability of the foot which are existing at birth. It occurs in about one per 1000 live births making it a relatively frequent problem. When a baby arrives the midwife or doctor will check them for a number of different disorders as part of the screening routine. A clubfoot is one of those problems that they routinely look 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 position of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is normally comparatively minor condition but still may be quite stressful at the birth because it is obvious. Often, it's an isolated condition, but occasionally it is part of a range of signs and symptoms making up a syndrome. Babies with this deformity can also be more prone to have a dislocated hip at birth.

The treatment of a clubfoot will depend on the severity and characteristics of it. There are generally two types of this deformity; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot will likely be treated with regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching and then the foot is put into a plaster cast to hold it in a more changed position. After a period of time, that can rely on how severe 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 frequently quite effective. If this treatment is not successful or if the deformity is rigid then a surgical technique is indicated. Technically this is a complicated surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are many structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that should be operated on to move the foot into a much more corrected position, making it tricky.