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For parents

What is Talipes?

Talipes is a word used to describe a deformity of the foot and ankle that is present when a baby is first born.

There are 2 main types of talipes:

1. Positional Talipes

The foot is structurally normal but it has become moulded into an incorrect position in the womb. Once the baby is born, the foot position will usually correct on its own. Sometimes, gentle stretches can be taught to speed this process up.

2. Structural Talipes

The most common structural foot deformity is "congenital talipes equino varus" (CTEV) or clubfoot. This type of foot problem will not improve on its own and treatment will be needed to correct the deformity within the first few months of life.


  • Congenital - present at birth
  • Talipes - foot and ankle
  • Equino - foot points downwards
  • Varus - Heel turns inwards.

It is not known why CTEV or clubfoot occurs but occasionally it runs in families. It is twice as common in boys as girls and may affect both feet or just one. Often, the condition is detected on the antenatal scan. If this is the case, you as parents may be referred to the paediatric physiotherapy department at Bristol Children's Hospital (BCH), so that you can learn how your baby will be treated once they are born.


If your baby has clubfoot and is referred to BCH they will be treated with the Ponseti technique. This is considered to be the gold standard of treatment for this condition.

The Ponseti technique consists of weekly plaster casts whereby the foot position is gradually corrected. Most babies also need a small procedure called a tenotomy in order to release the achilles tendon. When the foot is fully corrected, your baby will need to wear special boots attached to a bar which maintains this correction as he or she grows. Initially they are worn for 23hours a day. From 3 months to 5 years they are worn at night and nap time only.

At BCH, the Ponseti Clinic is held every Wednesday morning in the Physiotherapy Department. The team consists of 4 specialist physiotherapists and 2 consultant orthopaedic surgeons. Your baby will be seen in this clinic whilst they are having their plaster cast treatment. They will then continue to have regular reviews whilst wearing the boots and bar, and afterwards as they continue to grow.


Debbie McMillan / Jenny Anstead / Caroline Tope - 0117 342 8525


For more information about clubfoot and its treatment, please go to: