Club foot, also known as talipes, is a congenital problem, which means that it is present at birth. One or both feet are turned inward, making them look a bit like a golf club. Although doctors aren’t sure what causes club foot, they do know that it isn’t painful for the baby. Club foot can be corrected. Kids with untreated club foot can suffer from arthritis and low self-esteem due to embarrassment about their disorder.
What causes club foot?
Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes club foot, but the do know that it has nothing to do with how the baby is positioned in the womb. Sometimes club foot is accompanied by other congenital abnormalities, but usually it is the only abnormality in an otherwise healthy baby.
Is club foot serious?
Left untreated, club foot can affect the way your child walks. Until he starts walking, however, club foot will not affect your child at all. Despite how it looks, club foot is not painful for infants. Kids with club foot tend to walk on the outside of the affected foot/feet. Older children with club foot may suffer from arthritis and low self-esteem due to the obvious deformity of their foot and leg.
Can I prevent club foot?
Since doctors don’t know what causes club foot, it’s not easy to know how to prevent it.
How do I know if my child has club foot?
Most babies are diagnosed at birth since club foot is usually very visible. The disorder is called club foot because one or both of the child’s feet are turned inward so that they look a bit like a golf club. Kids with club foot may have one leg slightly shorter than the other and weakened calf muscles on the affected leg.
How do I treat club foot?
Club foot can be treated surgically, through a series of massage, or a series of plaster casts called the Ponseti Method. Using the Ponseti Method, your child’s affected foot is manipulated into a normal position and then a cast is applied to keep the foot from turning back. The cast is changed every week or so to allow further manipulation and correction of the foot and leg. Once the position of the foot has been corrected, your child may need to wear a brace and/or perform regular therapy exercises to maintain the position.
Should I call the doctor?
Club foot is most often diagnosed at birth or during infancy. Your doctor can give you advice and discuss treatment options that are best for you and your child.
What you need to know about club foot
- Club foot is a congenital disorder.
- Club foot is not painful for babies.
- Club foot can be corrected using the Ponseti Method or via surgery.
Find more relevant articles and information about club foot:
- Find more about arthritis
- Read more about pregnancy
- Discover about muscular dystrophy
- Find more about hand, foot and mouth disease
Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand’s parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health and Health Insite.
Last revised: Wednesday, 20 January 2010
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.