Clubfoot is a deformity of the foot that causes the foot to turn inward. The Achilles tendon becomes taut, which pulls the heel upward toward the leg and prevents the foot from being able to sit flat on the ground. A club foot is usually smaller than a normal-sized foot.

Clubfoot occurs in about 1 in 1,000 children. Clubfoot does not indicate or cause other health conditions and is not thought to be caused by position in the womb.


Clubfoot is caused by a congenital deformity in the development of the muscles, tendons, and bones of the foot. However, why this occurs is unknown. There is some belief that clubfoot can be inherited in some cases.

Achilles Tendon and Related Muscles

Achilles Tendon action
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

Because the cause of clubfoot is not understood, not many of the risk factors for this condition are known. However, some of the following factors increase your chance of developing clubfoot:

  • Being male
  • Having a family history of clubfoot


Symptoms include:

  • At birth, one or both feet that:
    • Turn inward and downward, and will not straighten
    • Are slightly smaller than normal
  • Calf muscle slightly smaller than normal


Clubfoot is easily diagnosed during a physical examination, but an x-ray of the foot will also be taken. The condition can often even be diagnosed before birth during an ultrasound examination.

Prenatal Ultrasound

Fetal Ultrasound
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


Clubfoot can be corrected, but it is best to start treatment as early as possible—even right after birth. Treatment options include:


With casting, the foot is manually manipulated by the doctor into a better position and placed in a series of casts. A new cast is put on every week for 5-10 weeks to stretch the soft tissues of the foot and reshape it.

After the initial casting procedure is completed, a brace is used and worn at night and during naps.


Surgery may be done to correct the deformed tendons and muscles in very severe cases that do not respond to casting.


There is no known way to prevent clubfoot, as the cause of the congenital deformity is unknown.