What is Clubfoot?

Clubfoot, or talipes equinovarus, is a treatable birth defect that affects approximately 150,000 children each year. When clubfoot occurs the foot is twisted inward and down, and this condition occurs during development in the womb. Physicians have observed that fetuses that develop clubfoot start with a normal foot and then the foot begins to turn inward around the third month. Most children born with clubfoot are not missing any bones, muscles, or connective tissue. It is a congenital condition, meaning that when it occurs it is always present at birth. It is one of the most common congenital deformities. One or both feet may be affected and the affected feet can range from relatively flexible to stiff and rigid.

The condition is not painful for the newborn, though when a child gets to walking age, walking with an uncorrected clubfoot can be very painful and difficult, if not impossible. Parents will know at birth if their child has clubfoot because the foot will be twisted inward. Some cases are diagnosed during a routine ultrasound. If you are wondering if your child has clubfoot, contact a physician who has experience in diagnosing this condition. Researchers do not know exactly what causes clubfoot. However, if either of the parents were born with clubfoot, their children are more likely to have it. For years clubfoot has been treated by casting and/or surgery.


Over 50 years ago, Dr. Ignacio Ponseti developed a method for treating clubfoot that requires the use of over the knee cast and special protocol. This treatment is 95% effective and is the most cost effective treatment with no side effects. Treatment should start soon after birth. Recent research has shown that the Ponseti Method is effective for children as old as ten, even in cases of failed surgery. The Ponseti Brace has a very high rate of success. Owens Carolina will set the brace up following the recommendations of your doctor. Typically, the shoes are set at 60 to 70 degrees of external rotation. The shoes are mounted to the bar to provide 10 to 15 degrees of dorsiflexion.

Generally, the distance between the heels of the shoes are set at the child’s shoulder width. Each child’s situation is unique and the braces may be set up differently. It will be necessary to do foot inspections to make sure the braces are not causing any skin irritation. It is important to report skin problems quickly. It is possible to modify the braces and remove pressure areas. As the child grows, it will be necessary to adjust the bar and switch the shoes to a larger size. We are here to help you through the treatment. This information was provided by Ponseti International. For more information, we have provided their link.