What is Clubfoot?

What is Clubfoot?

ClubfootClubfoot is an abnormality of the foot, ankle, and calf that a child is born with, which causes the foot to twist inward. This happens because the tendons that connect the leg muscles to the foot bones are tight and short. Clubfoot is also known as “congenital talipes equinovarus.”

It is one of the most common congenital disabilities in newborns and can happen to one or both feet. In about half of infants, both feet are affected (bilateral clubfoot). Treatment for clubfoot should begin as early as possible to achieve the best outcome.

Types of Clubfoot


There are different types of clubfoot, depending on the origin of the deformity and how severe it is:

  • Isolated (idiopathic) clubfoot arises in children with no other health problems and is the most common type of clubfoot
  • Neurogenic clubfoot occurs in children with neurological conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or spinal cord compression
  • Syndromic clubfoot happens in newborns with a musculoskeletal health syndrome such as arthrogryposis (limited range of motion in the joints), constriction band syndrome (which happens when fibrous bands of the amniotic fluid sac get tangled around a fetus), tibial hemimelia (a shortened or missing shin bone), and dwarfism
  • Atypical or “complex” clubfoot may occur secondary to the above types. It is characterized by a short, stubby foot with a flexed first toe and often has a deep crease along the bottom of the foot.

Signs & Symptoms of Clubfoot


In babies with clubfoot, one or both feet are turned downward with the toes pointed inward. 

Other signs of clubfoot include:

  • The clubfoot has a high arch
  • The back of the foot turns inward
  • There is often a deep crease in the bottom of the clubfoot
  • The Achilles tendon (behind the ankle) is short and tight
  • The affected foot and calf are smaller, and the calf muscles are underdeveloped

If you suspect your baby has clubfoot, a pediatric orthopedic specialist can help determine a diagnosis and match your child with the most appropriate treatment.

What Causes Clubfoot?

The cause of clubfoot is uncertain, but doctors believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Risk Factors for Clubfoot

Risk Factors

An infant may have a higher risk of developing clubfoot if:

  • The child is a boy
  • There is a family history of clubfoot
  • Other congenital conditions are present, such as spina bifida or trisomy 18 (Edward syndrome)
  • The mother smoked, consumed alcohol, or used illegal drugs during pregnancy
  • There was not enough amniotic fluid during pregnancy



If not treated, clubfoot can cause serious problems such as:

  • Inability to walk normally, resulting in calluses on foot, painful sores, and an awkward gait
  • Arthritis (pain, stiffness, and swelling in the affected joints)
  • Poor self-image
  • Foot infections
  • Recurrence of disease, which is typically caused by noncompliance with bracing regimens during early childhood
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Clubfoot Care

An accurate diagnosis and proper clubfoot treatment are vital to give your child the best chance of mobility and comfort. The pediatric orthopedic specialists of NewYork-Presbyterian have exceptional experience caring for young children with clubfoot and can provide your baby with customized treatment. Give us a call today to make an appointment for a consultation with one of our experts.