Clubfoot—also known as talipes equinovarus—is a term used to describe a series of foot abnormalities that are usually congenital (born with it).


Clubfoot—also known as talipes equinovarus—is a term used to describe a series of foot abnormalities that are usually congenital (born with it). Clubfoot occurs when the tendons and ligaments are shorter than normal, causing the foot to twist out of shape. About 1 in 1,000 children are born with clubfoot in the U.S. each year.

What Causes Clubfoot?

Though the cause of clubfoot is unknown, a genetic/environmental combinationClubfoot picture is suspected. Factors that may increase the risk of an infant developing clubfoot include:

  • Environmental factors like smoking, contracting an infection, using recreational drugs or taking certain medications linked to clubfoot (e.g., the SSRI Depakote, Zofran for nausea, etc.) during pregnancy
  • Biological sex, because boys are twice as likely to have this condition than girls
  • Family history, especially if the parent(s) or another child in the immediate family had it
  • Insufficient amniotic fluid during pregnancy (the fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb)
  • Other congenital conditions that involve deformity of the skeletal system, such as spina bifida

Client would like to add a bullet that says: “SSRI’s like Depakote and antinausea medications like Zofran have been linked to increased  incidence of clubfoot”

How Is Clubfoot Diagnosed?

Usually, clubfoot can be diagnosed just by looking at the foot. In some cases, a physician may order an X-ray to better understand the severity, but this is not typical. Clubfoot may be present during an ultrasound (but no treatment is conducted until after the baby is born).

How Are Infants Typically Treated for Clubfoot?

An infant’s bones, joints and tendons are extremely flexible at first, so treatment usually involves stretching and casting the foot (Ponseti method) for the first couple of weeks after birth. The ultimate goal is to treat the foot before the child is able to walk, potentially avoiding long-term disability.

With the Ponseti method, a physician will set the baby’s foot in the right position and place a cast on it. This process is repeated once or twice a week over the course of several months. Then, a minor procedure is performed to lengthen the Achilles tendon at the end of the process.

Once the foot is realigned, parents will need to maintain the shape by performing at least one of the following:

  • Stretching exercises
  • Putting the child in special braces and shoes
  • Keeping special shoes and braces on for as long as needed based on physician recommendation 

If the clubfoot is severe or doesn’t respond to other treatments, a more invasive surgical procedure can be performed to lengthen all of the tendons and release the ligaments so that the foot can be manipulated into a better position. The foot is then placed in a cast for one to two months, followed by a brace that is to be worn for approximately a year.

If the surgery is delayed into adulthood or if childhood treatment does not correct the problem, fusions of the involved rear foot, midfoot and ankle bones may be necessary to bring the foot under the leg.

What Are the Treatment Outcomes for Clubfoot?

Regardless of treatment, a clubfoot may not be fully corrected. In the majority of cases, however, children treated early enough go on to lead active lives and wear normal shoes.

Where to Go for Clubfoot?

Essex Union Podiatry is a complete foot and ankle practice serving the podiatric needs of Essex and Union counties. Our specialty trained physicians utilize the latest techniques and tools to diagnose, treat and provide preventative care for all foot and ankle conditions. With an emphasis on patient education, our practice offers quality care by creating an informative and personalized treatment plan tailored to meet individual needs.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our hammertoe specialists, give us a call at (973) 671-1977 or contact Essex Union Podiatry today.

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Meet Our Doctors

The physicians of Essex Union Podiatry are experienced and dedicated professionals trained in various subspecialties of podiatry care. Click on the pictures below to learn more about our doctors.

Jason P. Galante, DPM,

Jason Galante, DPM, AASPS

Nancy A. Kaplan, DPM, MBA, AACHE, FACFAS


Sarah E. Haller, DPM, AACFAS