The term ‘Talipes’ comes from the Latin words talus (ankle) and pes (foot).

It is thought during pregnancy the normal development of the foetus is interrupted resulting in a deformity at birth of the child’s limb.

Talipes was previously considered as a foot deformity – hence the name club foot – however it is now recognised as a whole limb deformity. The heel and foot typically point downwards and inwards, and the leg muscles, particularly the calf muscles are withered and more contracted. It is relatively common condition affecting between 1-2 babies born in every 1000 and can involve one or both feet which may be twisted in various positions.

Historically the deformity was treated by surgery, however as our understanding of the biomechanics of the lower limb has improved treatment has now moved towards manipulation and casting.

In the 1950’s Dr Ignatio Ponseti, an orthopaedic surgeon who was frustrated with the surgical outcomes developed the Ponseti method, where the ligaments, joint capsules, and tendons are stretched under gentle manipulations.  Following each manipulation, a cast is applied to retain the degree of correction and stretch the ligaments.

This method of treatment means that there is much less stiffness, scarring and an increased range of movement and children who are born with talipes can expect a good quality of life.

However, there can still be a range of emotions for parents of children with the condition such as guilt and self-blame and people living with talipes may be embarrassed or express feelings of shame about the appearance of their legs and feet. Yet with improved therapies for talipes there is no reason that children born today should be hindered by the condition. As the paralympian Jonathan Broom-Edwards has proven there are no boundaries to living with talipes.

Podiatrists are vital in the care of people living with talipes to enable them to lead a full life, through the use of gait analysis, orthotics, vascular and neurological assessments.

Podiatrists can also treat any callus build up due to old surgical sites or altered biomechanics and associated areas of high pressure, and can also advise about modified footwear. Read more about Anna’s story here.

There are also a number of associations that can help with people that require odd sized shoes including: Wolky, Shoewap and Clarks.

For more support and advice about living with talipes, Steps is the national charity working for those who are are affected by childhood lower limb conditions.

Add a Comment