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Club Foot - What Is It?

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MS (Orthopaedics), Basic Life Support Course, Basic Trauma Life Support Course, Ao - Trauma Course
Orthopedic Doctor, Ghaziabad  •  17 years experience
Club Foot - What Is It?

Club foot is a deformity in infants. It is a general term to refer to some unusual positions of the foot and ankle. It is known as talipes equinovarus. The foot of the child is twisted out of shape and is rotated inwards and downwards at the ankle in this condition. The affected parts such as the foot, calf and leg appear to be smaller. It can be mild to quite severe. If not treated, it makes walking difficult as people with this condition have to walk on the sides of their feet.

Types:
Club Foot has two types-

  1. Postural or Positional.
  2. Fixed of Rigid.

Causes:
The exact cause of club foot is still unknown as it is a birth defect. Genetics and environmental factors seem to play a major role. Some possible causes of club foot are-

  1. A skeletal abnormality such as spina bifida cystica, hip dysplasia or developmental dysplasia is linked with club foot.
  2. It can be passed down through families due to genetic reasons. If either of the parents or any of their children born earlier have a club foot, then the newborn baby also has the possibility of developing this condition.
  3. Disruption in the neuromuscular pathway in the brain, spinal cord, nerve or muscle can be the reason.
  4. It has a link with the maternal age, smoking habits and conditions such as diabetes of the mother. Using recreational drugs during pregnancy and getting an infection also increases the risk.
  5. Sometimes, in very few cases, it can depend on the position of the baby in the mother’s womb.
  6. Not enough amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the mother’s womb can also be a cause of club foot.

Symptoms:
As mentioned before, club foot makes the feet twisted.

  1. The foot is twisted downward and inward, and so severely that it looks as if it is upside down.
  2. The feet, calf muscles and legs are underdeveloped and small.
  3. The arch increases and the heels are turned inward.

Complications:
Club Foot causes some complications in the child’s life.

  1. Basic Problems: There will be difficulty with movement, walking and fitting a shoe size.
  2. Arthritis: There is a chance of developing arthritis.
  3. Poor Self Image: During the teen years, the body image will be a concern because of the unusual position of the foot.

Prevention:
It cannot be prevented completely because the cause is still unknown, but there are some tips for pregnant woman to limit the risk.

  1. No smoking.
  2. No alcohol.
  3. No unapproved drugs.

Treatment:
The treatment of club foot starts right after birth. There are several treatment methods.

  1. The Ponseti Method: In this method, the baby’s foot is bent gently by a specialist to the right position and a plaster cast is applied.
  2. The French Method: Massage, exercise, stretching and immobilization of the foot are performed under this method.
  3. Surgery: If other methods do not work, then a surgery is performed to adjust the tendons, ligaments and joints of foot and ankle.

After the treatment, the baby needs to wear special boots with a bar that holds the feet outwards in the right position this prevents the club foot from returning.

Club foot is a severe deformity that can create serious problems for the whole life. Hence, it should be treated right away. Parents are advised to consult a doctor as soon as they notice the symptoms. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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