Clubfoot & Foot Disorders

What Is Clubfoot?

Clubfoot is a congenital deformity in which the foot is severely turned inward and pointed downward. It is one of the most common pediatric musculoskeletal conditions requiring referral to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. The diagnosis is most often made at birth based upon the position and rigidity of the foot though children at frequently diagnosed before birth by prenatal ultrasound. Half of all patients affected have involvement of both feet. If left untreated, the foot deformity can make shoe wear problematic and thouh the deformity does not preclude ambulation, walking can become painful over time. 

Clubfoot and TSRHC

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children treats hundreds of children with clubfeet each year. Through our Center for Excellence in Clubfoot Research, the team at TSRHC conducts extensive research on this condition to determine the most optimum treatment and best options for children with clubfeet. Although surgery was once considered the mainstay of treatment, less invasive methods, such as Ponseti casting or physical therapy using the French functional method, are now common practice and extremely successful at correcting this oftentimes significant deformity.

Other Foot Disorders Treated at TSRHC

In addition to clubfeet, the surgeons at TSRHC have extensive experience treating numerous other foot and ankle disorders. Management of these conditions varies and is tailored to the patient based upon the severity or deformity and associated problems such as pain, problems with shoe wear or gait abnormalities. Treatments range form observation to physical therapy to surgery if necessary. Such conditions include:

  • Flat Feet (Pes Planus)
  • Extra Toes
  • Toe Deformities
  • Tarsal Coalitions
  • High Arched Feet (Pes Cavus)
  • Congenital Vertical Talua
  • Metatarsus Adductus


The cause of clubfoot remains uncertain, but many researchers believe the condition is genetic, as it often runs in families.

Clubfoot is more common in males than females and affects about one in every 1,000 children.

Clubfoot is present at birth and can be detected by ultrasound even before a child is born.

A doctor is needed for proper diagnosis, but typically the heel tilts in and down and the forefoot turns in. The affected foot and calf are usually smaller than those of the unaffected leg.

Treatment of clubfoot ideally begins at an early age.

Newborns and infants at TSRHC are treated nonsurgically in two ways: the Ponseti casting technique and the French physical therapy method of stretching, massaging and taping. In the rare event these methods do not completely correct the foot, the patient may undergo surgery. In most cases, a special brace is used to prevent the condition from recurring.