Clubfoot is a congenital deformity of the foot and ankle which is first noticed after birth. The most common type of clubfoot, talipes equinovarus, involves a foot that is turned downward and inward. If the foot is left in this position, it is not possible for the child to walk.
Clubfoot is considered to be the most common congenital musculoskeletal birth defect. It is estimated that about 5000 children in the US are born with clubfoot each year.
Treatment of clubfoot
The good news about clubfoot treatment is that conservative treatment can be very successful if start early, as early as a few weeks after birth. The standard treatment is known as the Ponseti Method. This method which was developed by Dr. Ignacio Ponseti of the University of Iowa involves a combination of manipulation and serial casting of the foot and ankle. A series of casts is applied as the foot and ankle is gradually manipulated back into the normal position. Occasionally, the Achilles tendon is too badly contracted to allow the foot to be brought back to the straight position. In such cases the Achilles tendon may be cut in the office under local anesthesia. The tendon will grow back together in the lengthened position.
Once the clubfoot has been corrected, it is generally necessary to maintain correction with braces applied at night. The Wheaton Brace is an excellent product for this purpose: