The tendons that connect the leg muscles to a clubfoot are too short and tight. Why the foot forms this way is not known. It may be a mix of a person's genes and the environment around them.

Achilles Tendon and Related Muscles
Achilles Tendon action
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in men. It is also more common in people with other family members who have it.

Smoking during pregnancy may raise the risk.



A clubfoot appears at birth and may affect one or both feet. The foot may:

  • Turn inward and downward, and will not straighten
  • Have a deep crease on the bottom
  • Be slightly smaller than normal
  • Have a calf muscle that is slightly smaller


A clubfoot is diagnosed at birth based on how the foot looks. It may also be diagnosed before birth during an ultrasound.

Prenatal Ultrasound
Fetal Ultrasound
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



The goal of treatment is to correct the foot so the child can walk with it flat on the ground. Treatment needs to be started early. Options are:

  • A series of casts to slowly stretch the tissues of the foot and reshape it
  • A brace to keep the foot from twisting back to where it was before casting

Children with severe clubfoot may need surgery. It can help fix tendons and muscles.


Not smoking during pregnancy may help lower the risk of a child being born with clubfoot.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.