Club Foot

A club foot or clubfoot is a congenital deformity involving one foot or both. The affected foot appears to have been rotated internally at the ankle. Patients with club feet often appear to walk on their ankles. With clubfoot the tissues connecting the muscles to the bones are shorter than usual. The ankle can be twisted at a sharp angle making the foot resemble a golf club, hence the name. The severity of clubfoot can range from mild to severe. It occurs in about one in every 1,000 live births.

The following symptoms can be present in a patient with clubfoot:
• The foot is smaller than normal.
• The foot may point downward.
• The front of the foot may be rotated toward the other foot.
• The foot may turn in.
• The bottom of the foot can point up.

Clubfoot is painless as a child, but it can eventually cause severe pain. Left untreated, clubfoot does not straighten itself out. The foot will remain twisted out of shape, and the affected leg may be shorter and smaller than the other. These symptoms become more prevalent as the child grows. There are also problems with fitting shoes and participating in play.

Patients undergo nonsurgical treatments such as casting or splinting. The foot (or feet) is moved into the most normal position possible and held (immobilized) in that position until the next treatment. If the non-surgical treatment does not work, surgery is usually recommended. The most common surgical procedures are to lengthen or release the tight soft-tissue structures, including ligaments and tendons such as the heel cord.

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