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Children's Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock (CHad)
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About Clubfoot

Clubfoot facts

  • Clubfoot occurs in about one in a thousand infants (approximately 0.1% of births).
  • Boys are more likely than girls to have clubfoot.
  • About half of children born with clubfoot have it in both feet (bilateral).
  • The exact cause of the condition is unknown but there seems to be a genetic component.

Treatment

The choice of treatment depends on the age of the child and the severity of the clubfoot. Most chldren born with clubfoot are able to lead normal lives.

Casting treatment

Stretching and putting a cast on the area is a non-surgical method that is often used, especially when it is started at a younger age. One example of this technique is the Ponseti method, in which a cast is worn by the infant and changed on a weekly basis. When changing the cast, the doctor stretches the foot toward a normal position. Once the right position is reached, the infant has to wear a leg brace every day for two years to reinforce the correction.

A minor surgical procedure called a tenotomy — or tendon release — may be required after the casting.

Alternate treatment

In more severe cases, the stretching and casting method may not work and surgery is needed to correct the problem. Surgery will most likely adjust the tendons, joints, and ligaments of the foot and ankle in order to correct the positioning of the foot. The surgery is typically done between 9 and 12 months of age. Following the surgery, a cast is worn to help the muscles heal correctly, followed by wearing leg braces for one year.

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