Clubfoot (talipes equinovarus)

At the Children’s Health℠ Andrews Institute, our skilled orthopedic physicians take quick action to treat clubfoot or talipes equinovarus (tali·​pes equi·​no·​var·​us) with minimally invasive techniques such as the Ponseti method, an effective treatment that involves stretching, casting and bracing.

What is a clubfoot (talipes equinovarus)?

Clubfoot (talipes equinovarus) is a condition in which the tendons and ligaments in a baby’s foot and ankle are abnormally short and tight.

The shortened tendons cause the feet to turn inward and downward. While the condition isn’t painful for babies, if left untreated it can lead to limb deformities and problems walking later in life.

To provide your child with the best care possible, we have assembled a team of pediatric experts, including orthopedic physicians, physical therapists and cast techs. Together, they provide high quality and comprehensive care for babies with clubfoot.  

Learn more about congenital hereditary disorders.

Clubfoot - Children's Health

What are the signs and symptoms of a clubfoot (talipes equinovarus)?

Clubfoot is the most common congenital birth defect, affecting an estimated one in every 1,000 newborns. Babies born with clubfoot may have it in one or both feet.

Common signs of clubfoot include:

  • Top of the foot turns inward and downward (foot can appear upside down if turn is severe).
  • Calf muscles don’t fully develop above the affected ankle.
  • Affected foot is shorter.

How is a clubfoot (talipes equinovarus) diagnosed?

Often, a physical exam by an expert is all your baby needs to confirm clubfoot. Many cases are even detected before birth, during a prenatal ultrasound. We confirm the diagnosis when the baby is born. In some cases, we may order an imaging scan to rule out other conditions.

Our diagnostic tools include:

  • Physical exam: Looks at your child’s affected foot or feet, checking for abnormal rotation
  • X-ray: Uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to take detailed images of the foot and ankle bones

How is a clubfoot (talipes equinovarus) treated?

Ponseti method

When babies’ feet develop abnormally, we use advanced, effective treatments to reshape them. Our skilled orthopedic physicians use a nonsurgical technique called the Ponseti method that involves stretching, casting and bracing.

With the Ponseti Method, a minimally invasive technique, your child’s physician places the foot in its proper position and recasts it each week over one to two months so it will heal correctly. Your doctor may also perform a small procedure to lengthen the Achilles tendon.

Over time, your baby’s tendons will stretch and lengthen, supporting healthy bone and muscle development. To ensure a successful outcome, children usually wear a brace for a few years following the procedure.


When conservative treatment doesn’t work, your child may need surgery to stretch and lengthen the affected tendons. Our surgeons have extensive experience treating clubfoot in infants and young children.

Sometimes, serious cases of clubfoot require surgery to realign the foot. Older children with clubfoot need more complex surgeries to repair the condition. We provide advanced, effective surgical options to treat clubfoot.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If my child has been diagnosed with clubfoot, when should I seek treatment?.

    Ideally, treatment should start within a few weeks of birth. When treatment is started early, good outcomes are likely.

  • How long will my child be in a cast during treatment?

    The first stage of casting lasts four to eight weeks, with your doctor recasting the foot each week.

    Afterward, we usually perform a small procedure where we lengthen the Achilles tendon, then place the baby’s final cast on for three months. When the cast is removed, your child will wear a special brace full-time for three months, followed by nightly wearing for the next few years.