Congenital Clubfoot - What's a Parent To Do?headingContent

Posted on August 28, 2014

picture of baby feetCongenital clubfoot occurs in about 1 in 1,000 births with no known cause.

For the past 16 years, pediatric orthopaedic surgeon Kenneth Jeffers, MD, has consistently had at least one patient undergoing treatment for clubfoot at his practice. Congenital clubfoot is an abnormal appearance of the foot and is the result of maldevelopment of the soft tissues in the lower leg. Dr. Jeffers explains that there is no known cause for what he calls “true” congenital club foot.

What is congenital clubfoot?medical image of a normal foot and club foot

Clubfoot occurs in combination with some other connective tissue disorders, such as arthrogryposis, which is contracture in the joints. In some children, the clubfoot tends to be particularly severe, rigid, and very deformed. These would show up fairly early during fetal development. Clubfoot that does not occur in combination with connective tissue disorders might not be diagnosed until after birth.

Many parents may wonder how they will know if their child will be diagnosed with clubfoot. According to Dr. Jeffers, as soon as the limbs develop in a fetus, a parent will be able to tell through an ultrasound. Occasionally, the possibility of detection will depend on the severity of the deformity.

How is congenital clubfoot treated?

Dr. Jeffers explains that clubfoot that is not associated with other connective tissue disorders, such as arthrogryposis and spina bifida, for example, are treated with a process called “manipulation and casting” as the standard approach. The casting process breaks down the deformity into component parts. Each casting visit addresses a specific component of the deformity. After the casting has been performed and the deformity is corrected, there is a phase of treatment that involves holding the corrected foot in a position such that corrective alignment takes place. This is administered by wearing a type of boot to hold the foot in place. “The manipulation and casting process is a process that has to be done gently, sequentially, meaning correcting of deformities in a specific sequence and requires an experienced practitioner and a supportive social environment,” states Dr. Jeffers.  “Surgery is a much less desirable treatment option as it results in a stiffer and less mobile foot.”

Visit to learn more about the treatment for congenital clubfoot.