A clubfoot is a disability of the foot which are existing at birth. It occurs in approximately one per 1000 live births making it a relatively frequent problem. When a baby is born the midwife or doctor will check them for a number of different problems as part of the screening routine. A clubfoot is just one of those problems that they typically check for. A clubfoot is described as when the foot is in a downward and inward position as compared with normal. This is technically called planterflexed, inverted and abducted placement of the foot. In the grand scheme of things a clubfoot is usually somewhat minor problem yet still can be quite distressing at the birth as it is obvious. Often, it's an isolated problem, but from time to time it is part of a range of symptoms making up a syndrome. Babies with this deformity can also be more likely to have a dislocated hip at birth.
The management of a clubfoot is dependent upon the severity and nature of it. There are fundamentally two types of this deformity; flexible and rigid. A flexible clubfoot is frequently managed with regular mobilization, manipulation and stretching and then the foot is placed in a plaster cast to hold it in a more corrected position. After a period of time, that can depend on how serious it is, the plaster cast is removed and the foot is again mobilized and stretched with a new plaster cast being applied and then to hold the foot in an even more corrected position. This method has been well documented to be commonly quite successful. If this therapy is not successful or if the deformity is inflexible then a surgical approach is indicated. Technically this is a complicated surgery as the foot and structures are very small. There are numerous structures from the bone, to the tendons, to the ligaments that should be operated on to move the foot in to a more corrected position, making it complicated.