Congenital Talipes Equinovarus

Joe’s Clubfoot Story

Hi my name is Joe. I’m 25 years old and was born with a club foot. I think i could give you all some info on what it feels like growing up. Maybe kids reading this can identify with me, and parents could have an idea what their children are going through. If this helps at all, I’ll be happy.

My right foot was slightly turned inward at birth. Something my mother had noticed but was told by doctors just to “rub it” and it will be OK. You have to remember this was 1981. She demanded to see a specialist and was granted her wish. The Doctor immediately diagnosed me.

Growing up in my early years I lived a pretty carefree childhood as all other young children do, never felt much pain in my foot and didn’t really realize anything was wrong with me. But once I started school, kids being kids will let you know pretty fast.

Around the age of 7 or 8 virtually anyone who observed me could see a slight limp and was quick to point it out. As a result of my surgery, one of my calf muscles was bigger then the other. I started to get teased often by the other kids, and wound up getting into a lot of fights. Even though my foot was corrected by surgery, a club foot will never be a fully functional foot. My right foot to this day has a stiffness to it that is not present in my left. The range of motion in the joint is minimal. By around the age of 10 or 11 i started to walk with an undetectable limp, teaching myself to do so. The limp was only slightly present when running

I started really taking to sports to prove to the kids around me that even though i was born with a club foot (and i never, ever, let anyone know that, to this day ive not told anyone that I had a club foot) I could still beat them in physical activities. Maybe I just needed to prove to myself that I was normal physically, despite the fact that i observed differences with myself and everyone around me, and had it pointed out to me regularly. I took up basketball and used it as an escape. my left leg was pretty fully developed. The left calf muscle was larger then the right and stronger, in fact, it was pretty freakishly huge. I would learn to dunk by jumping off my left leg, and was dunking a basketball by the age of 14. (I was only 5’8″ at the time!)

Even though I was always the best player among my peers, I never went out for the school teams. This mystified most of my friends. The reason was very simple. . . . I had always played basketball wearing pants. I had become sensitive to ridicule about my calf muscles being different sizes, so I never wanted to reveal them. If I played for my school, I’d have to wear shorts for the uniform. It was a tough pill to swallow. I watched kids who I knew I was better then receive popularity at the school that I knew could have been mine, if I hadn’t been so racked with insecurities about my situation. It was an awful feeling. I had been blessed with tremendous athletic gifts, even with my birth defect, but could never capitalize on them because of my insecurities.

I think the toughest thing to me was I had nobody I could identify with. I never knew anyone with a club foot besides myself. I’ve never seen anyone in my life who had 1 calf muscle bigger then the other. Children get teased for different things. An overweight child may get teased for their appearance, but they can still look around and notice other overweight children. A child who is teased for their height can still look around and see others who were small. I was teased for a situation with my appearance that I never observed in anyone else, ever. That’s a very lonely feeling, and can cause you to really isolate yourself from everyone else at times. There’s no one you can identify with on this.

I had never spoken about my foot to anyone in my life. For most of my life I’ve just acted as if its never happened. A lot of the feelings I described above were repressed for most of my life, and have manifested itself in many other ways that I’m finally now looking to change today. I’ve only recently started to acknowledge the situation and have dealt with all those feelings. This can be a very lonely situation to go through. My advice to all parents of children going through this, and people who are actually going through this themselves, confront your feelings on this, or it will only lay in the woods and wreck you inside.

Posted in Clubfoot Stories
8 comments on “Joe’s Clubfoot Story
  1. Ravi Kumar says:

    Hi Joes,
    I can relate everything to you. I went through the similar phase of life. I was born in 1989 in India in a village with no proper healthcare facilities at that time. I thought it was normal. I had not gone through any surgery but only had to wear steel strapped boots for 3 yrs of my life. I am living a normal life as all of my friends and relatives are known to my condition. Only thing I regret is unlike you, I had to leave sports ( Football ). To this day my right calf is almost double the size of my left calf. People do notice some leap in my walking style but due to my lifestyle I had left noticing. Some people talk and some people don’t. I too faced many abuses when I was in high school and in college but life moves on. Today I am 26 and well settled as AVP in a company. I talk freely about my condition to them and also ask them to consult with me in future if required about this condition. In my case everything is alright except calf and my left hell and ankle doesn’t work freely and bend as it should be. So it feels bit difficult to ride a bike with single pressure gear system and sometimes in winter it pains while running.

    I have learnt many things in life and the best thing among that is move on in your life and you will be successful.

  2. Danielle says:

    Amazing story Joe. I also have a clubfoot it’s my left foot and has it grown to be normal? I’m 20 and I work out but trying to get my calfs and ankle to look the same seems impossible and it’s holding me back from wearing shorts,or skirts. Thanks in advance

  3. Állan says:

    Hi, I’m Brazilian. I was born with two clubfeet. I started treatment when I was two years old. There was never recidivism and I needed only to have surgery, but suffered much bullying and because of that never show my leg. I wanted to know if I work out my legs they can be normal or a little more muscular? I really feel very bad about not being able to show my legs or wear shorts or go to the beach … please someone answer me so thanks!

  4. Robin says:

    Touching story Joe. Wow, I can relate to all of it. I’m now 17 and I was born with a left clufoot. When I was little, it wasn’t noticeable and I didn’t even realise that I have two different size calf muscles. It didn’t affect me until I was in year 6 when I really started growing and people started noticing, even myself. Right now, my right calf muscle is fully grown incomparison to my left calf muscle. I’ve had pains on my left ankle and the doctor said that I’m developing arthoritis so that made me stop playing all the sports that I loved. I am still a bit insecure but I really want to overcome it. My question for you is, has your right calf muscle grown or is it still the same? Has grown to be the same as your good leg or is it the same for the past years? I’m just curious to know how long I’m going to go through with this problem.

    Thank you very much for your story:)

  5. Barry drake says:

    There is a large difference between my calves and often get teased at school but usually just laugh it off. I have lots of friends who don’t really care so usually im fine and most of the people who tease my now are just joking and dont really mean it. I play soccer and every one on my team doesn’t really care because I’m the second fastest on the team. But gym class is kind of hell because I have to wear shorts or the teacher takes a mark off your day and I’m really self conscience about girls looking and asking about it and what’s worse is I’m limping even more now and the pain in my ankle has increased a lot. Thanks for showing me I’m not alone though.

  6. Lupe says:

    Joe I can relate to you’re story in many different ways ! This is actually my first time doing research on my issue, having both of my feet/legs as clubfoot, reading through articles and you’re story has helped me overcome feelings and problems that I’ve been dealing with for my full 21 years. One question that I ask myself and am searching for an answer is if by doing calf exercises on my legs will I be able to get muscle there or there is no hope ? I would very much like to know.
    Thank you

  7. Jack says:

    I have a club foot. That’s a touching story and I feel your pain. My calve difference isn’t noticeable yet but I know it might be later on. Can you still run and play basketball with your club foot and jump and run?

  8. Melissa says:

    Thank you Joe for sharing your story and we can all relate!! I had a very similar situation except both feet were club foot and severe! That teasing can really negatively effect someone when they are a kid. I am 29 and just now overcoming it.

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