A "clubfoot" is a type of malformation of the foot seen in newborn babies. In this condition, the foot is turned downwards and inwards, facing the opposite leg, either in one or both feet. Although the exact cause is not known, clubfeet are more common in boys and can run in families. Clubfoot is not painful and usually has no other associated problems or malformations. It occurs in about 1 per 1000 births in North America although it can occur more frequently among certain ethnicities.
Left untreated, clubfoot can lead to serious problems including inability to walk. Therefore, corrective treatment under the care of a pediatric orthopedic surgeon needs to start as soon as possible after birth. In the past, this always required surgery but today a different approach is used. This approach known as the Ponseti method, involves the application of a series of casts, gentle movements and stretching exercises of the foot, and a brace to slowly move the foot into the proper position.
The brace needs to be worn almost all the time for the first few months. As the foot starts to improve, the doctor will progressively decrease the time a baby will need to wear the brace. In most cases it takes 3 to 4 years for the clubfoot to be fully corrected. The Ponseti method is successful in the vast majority of babies born with clubfeet. If this treatment is not successful( in less than 10% of babies), surgery will be required. Of course the specific treatment type/approach and duration depends in the individual situation.