Congenital Talipes Equinovarus

Ryan’s Clubfoot Story

Hi, my name is Ryan and I’m 30 years old now, and I was born with bi-lateral clubfeet. I’ve been searching the Internet for some time now, trying to find a community on the web for people that are like me. It hasn’t been easy. I know it’s not something people share very easily, because I try to hide it whenever possible. But, I found this web site and thought I would share my story.

Growing up as a kid, I faced many obstacles having bi-lateral clubfeet. I had many surgeries starting at age 1. I had casts on both of my feet when I was a baby, and people would walk up to my mom and ask her how her little baby broke both of his feet! Although it upset her, I always thought the story was funny! I wasn’t able to walk until I was about 2, having full leg casts. When I started walking, I was fitted with braces until the age of 4. At that time, I wore corrective shoes for about 2 years and then moved on to regular tennis shoes. But even then, I had to wear corrective inserts that went into my shoes. As a kid, my skinny legs and oddly shaped feet never bothered me emotionally, it was something I would show off to my friends. I could do weird tricks with my toes! What bothered me was the pain, but it never stopped me from playing baseball, skateboarding, or any other fun activities. Many people with clubfeet will tell you, it makes you strong and your pain tolerance quite high.

The surgeries gave me the ability to walk, although my left foot was over corrected, giving me a flat foot, and my right foot was under corrected, giving me an extreme arch. I think I had a total of 5 surgeries through out my child hood. When I was 15, they performed a triple orthodeasis on my left foot; basically fusing the bones in my ankle, giving it limited movement. This surgery was the worst! I was in the hospital for 15 days and spent my summer in a wheel chair. Although I needed this surgery and it help with the pain; it was a hard 3 months. The surgeon accidentally cut the back of my calve with the laser cutter, losing almost 20% of my already small calve. Then, I got an infection in the cuts they made in my foot. But, I got through it, and again, I’m stronger because of it. I just wish the Ponsetti Method was available to me when I was a child.

As an adult, It’s very hard to deal with the pain and it affects my relationship with my kids in some ways. (Thank god they don’t have clubfeet) I can’t run very well and when I do, I pay for it later. At 30 years old, I’m already dealing with arthritis and the scar tissue makes my feet sore and stiff. Sometimes I can barely get down the steps in my house. When I’m not wearing shoes, I walk like I’m 80 years old. As I get older, my feet get worse. I’m nervous about my future and how long I will be able to walk. It’s difficult to think about sometimes. The good thing about it is that it affects me the worst in the winter. I know it sounds crazy, but my feet don’t bother me as much in the summer. Maybe it’s just me, I don’t know. I have no balance because of the shape of my feet and if I’m not paying attention to how I’m standing I will fall over. People sometimes ask me if I’m drunk! Anyways, what bothers me the most as an adult is the appearance of my legs and feet. I don’t own a single pair of shorts because my legs are so skinny and taking the kids swimming is simply out of the question. My wife does that, and she understands why I won’t go. I’m thankful to find someone that is so understandable of who I am.
It never bothered me as a kid, but as an adult, I can’t stand when people stair at my legs. It gives me a complex. The one time I took my kids to a water park I was humiliated. What I don’t understand is that it wasn’t kids that were starring, it was the adults. I didn’t know there is so many PERFECT people out there! Anyways, I make it easy on myself and just stay clear of the pool.

Despite dealing with the complications of clubfeet, I have a good life. I have a great family and we enjoy life together. My wife is amazing and likes who I am (I think!). I have a great job with a boss that understands my “situation”. I don’t let my clubfeet get in my way. My pain tolerance is something unreal! My family and I enjoy boating, golf, going to baseball games and just about anything worth trying at least once. It hasn’t stopped me yet! I would like to know or talk to someone who is dealing with clubfeet. I’m the only person I know with clubfeet.

If anyone would like to contact me, my E-mail address is rking636@yahoo.com.

Posted in Clubfoot Stories Tagged with: ,
21 comments on “Ryan’s Clubfoot Story
  1. Joseph Alexander says:

    Hey there Ryan, my name is Joseph Alexander and I was born with clubbed feet as a child. I had corrective surgery done as a child at Shriners Hospital in Chicago, ILL. I am 24 and have a young family, we just had a little boy 3 months ago and they say he does not show signs of clubbed feet. The pain I go through some days is so unreal I can’t hardly stand up. I have literally crawled to where I had to go in my house the pain was that bad for me. As of right now I am wearing Arizona braces on both feet. They seem to help with the pain but it gets so bad where I will limp on both feet, also I have bone spurs on the top of both feet which doesn’t help my pain any. I could not believe I found this blog and read your story. I am the only one in my family that had clubbed foot. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Jonathan Thompson says:

    My name is Jonathan I was born with two club feet. And for a long time I felt like I was alone with this. The pain can be unbearable at times but I make it through. I found Ryan’s story by accident but I’m glad I did. I just wanna say thank you for showing me b I’m not alone. My email address is rimington.44@gmail.com

  3. Jose Alcaraz says:

    Hello,

    Guys my Name is Jose and i was also born with clubfeet i read the story and i can relate alot but ive never been ashamed off my disability my apperance i learn to live with it. I had over 30 surgeries since i was 6 months old living most of my holidays in hospitals beign laugh at in school made fun of i just went along it never bother me at all and it never will. Even tho im single ive used my disabilitys to my advantage when trying to hook up with a goodlooking babe ha. So i can relate to all you guys but i never let it get to me lets live our lifes the best we can.

    Bye for now, ogmichoacano2002@hotmail.com feel free to email

  4. Jon says:

    Hi Ryan

    I found your blog online whilst searching for club foot, insoles, your story is so familiar and I can relate to you alot, Im in my early 30s male, I was born with 2 club feet that where rectified through the older methods from a baby till 7 years of age, causing muscle wastage (Skinny Legs), yes I walk funny like a drunk guy or hip hop guy my friends say, and so on, other problems are emerging now with knees, hips, arthritis etc, I also was born with a mild version of scoliosis of the spine, and I have very young children of which I share a similar fear. of being not able to be mobile for as long as possible with them.

    I as well, have managed to live a very active life, mostly in pain when doing activities and for days after, the pain never bothered me untill I got older, and only ten years ago was able to climb up the Himalayas for months and several the mountains whilst travelling around the world.

    So we share a very similar story, I think personally with all the issues that surround Club foot your main worry of going to the pool is also one share with you and was probably the biggest issue presented by club foot in my life, The pain the other effects of it make you stronger and shape the person you become, as you feel different when surrounded by the “normal” ones its a feeling of uniqueness, for me Club foot has driven me to do some things I thought I couldn’t do, and still I think I could do much more if pushed my self harder, so in one way I am gad I had it.

    I have one really skinny leg, I used to be so self conscious of it, I would avoid PE at school, I would hide my leg all the time never wearing shorts from age 7 upwards, I regret this now, as to be honest people look at it and probably just our of curiosity, to this day, I dont wear shorts not necessarily because of other people, its just become an intrinsic part of me in my mind my leg is strong and can do whatever a normal leg can do, if I look at it it looks weak and feeble, so it can be counter productive, so personally I can do more without Shorts, strange but true.

    I understand you not being able to go swimming or struggling in your teens early twenties, but now, if you have a family and wife, who cares whos looking share your story, people are just curious, those who mind dont matter, those who matter dont mind, life is to short to worry so much about what people in the pool think.

    i love your story, and it was great to read someone who has shared similar challenges with club foot, and im sure we will have some more similar challenges moving forward, personally regardless of the some of the pain and worries, Im still trying to learn to windsurf taking me twice as long as club foot messes up your balance lol, there are plenty of challenges out there that can be done without making club foot worse, so I am great full to be able to participate in those.

    Remaining optimistic about the future of being mobile is hard and this sounds crazy, but there are people out there with no Limbs who can do extraordinary things, so we can too, if my legs got so bad and pain full, and it stopped me moving hardly at all in the next 10 to 20 years, with such advancements being made in prosthetics we have nothing to worry about I guess.

    I know you written that article a few years ago so let me know how your getting on now ? I would love to hear it

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks for replying. I’m 35 now and I would say that I’m doing better than normal. I still have stints of pain from time to time but it’s not very often. Winters are usually the worst, but last winter, I didn’t have much pain at all. I hope it continues! Thanks again

  5. Helen says:

    Hi my name is Helen and I was born with both my feet clubbed, I had an operation when was a few months old and was successful and have lived a fairly normal life. I am 42 now and I. Recent years have started getting a lot of pain In my left foot and leg, physio hasn’t helped and it really gets me down. I hate wearing skirts or dresses because my legs are so thin, sometimes I a struggling with the pain and don’t know what the future holds. If anyone has any advice I would love to hear from them x

  6. Hi guys, my name is Michele and I’m 33, and have always wished I could get a foot transplant. I was born with my left foot clubbed. I don’t know a whole lot about my surgeries other than the first was butchered and the second the other doctor didn’t want to touch my foot, and that is it. I was told I would need dozens more but never received anymore. My mom is really fuzzy on the details. My ankle doesn’t move a whole lot. And walking and standing for a few hours is so painful. When I was pregnant the swelling in my foot was so painful and uneven. I’m off balance, I fell down the stairs so many times now I have sciatica. Some nights I crawl up the stairs so I don’t have to put any more stress on feet. And the skinny leg, I am also self conscious of that as well. But hey if it’s hot bring on the shorts. Can we talk about shoes? I can barely wear flats. Heels are definitely out of the equation. But even sneakers hurt my feet. I sometimes find my self questioning weither I’m just being a baby or that people don’t truly believe me when I’m in pain. Does anyone’s else’s feet or foot feel like it’s going collapse or buckle a lot when standing for while or walking? I’m glad to see there are people reaching out. A little family history too: my grandfather had webbed toes and fingers and my paternal uncle was also born with clubbed feet as well.

  7. Andrea Sierra says:

    Hello Ryan, My name is Andrea and I’m a sophomore in highschool. I was born with bilateral club foot, and just like most people I had multiple surgeries and casts on both my feet up until I was 3. It never bothered me up until i started noticing my limitations. My left foot was completely fixed and healed, but my right is smaller by a noticeable inch and it doesn’t have much of a back heel, it has a 3 inch scar going up from my heel, my pinky toe is turned inside quite abnormally, and my toes curl down into my foot, which makes it impossible to paint my toe nails haha. It used to have a pigeon kind of walk that made me trip over myself but I got that fixed. My right leg is really thin compared to the left and although not many notice its something that makes me really insecure. I can’t wear heels,because of my limited movements.. and I probably never will. I often stare at girls wearing heels and envy their gorgeous legs. I’ve pondered and cried over this several times, and sometimes I question whether anyone will like me once they know my condition.. I like winter over summer because I can have my legs covered completely, but just 2 years ago I started wearing dresses and shorts despite my skinny leg!! Which was a huge step.I used to be in athletics in junior high and squats were always horrifying, coaches always saying I was doing wrong. I never tried out for any sports because of my complexion and fear of hurting myself or being made fun of . I was going to try out for tennis last year, but my dad said it wouldn’t be a good idea… But now in highschool im the school’s marching band and although I can’t point or flex my foot I’m pretty good at marching. Its difficult for me to deal with this and I wish I was normal. Reading about others dealing with this makes me feel comfortable.I can’t say I’ve fully accepted the way I am but I hope one day I can. Thanks for everyone who’s shared their story. xx

    • Carls says:

      Andrea- thank you for your story. I can identify with you because I cannot wear heels and I also have scars.

  8. Carla says:

    Hello- my name is Carla and I was born with bilateral club foot. I wore cast till I was three and my feet were corrected by the Shriners in St. Louis. I also have very skinny legs and I have also never been able to stand on my tippy toes :(. i am starting to notice a lot of pain in my feet and around the outside of my legs in the ankle area. I have scar both on the insides of my feet and on the back of my legs running about 6inches from my heals. My heals are huge!! About the size of my fist but I was able to join the military. I also walk with a noticeable limp. It’s almost like I walk with my knees bents, but I really never noticed it. My mom always told me to take smaller steps. I have never talked to anyone with the same problem but I appreciate your comments and testimonies Club foot club!

  9. karli says:

    Hey my name is karli I have one club foot on my left so alot of people think I hurt myself I have a limp normally were ever I go I try not to do squats at the gym because everyone tries to correct me my co workers get mad because I cant drive a stick for mobility issues and I normally dont run or jumo because of my foor and I go threw alot of shoes I some times wish I didnt have a foot so people will actually look at me as disabled and I continue with my life I know its horrible to wish but everyone has high expectations of me since I have a foot but dont realize I cant move my foot it almost the same as prostect im sorry to rant but maybe this could give me closure I just never had someone to talk to about this pain

  10. rayan says:

    am really fast but i think i got club foot on the left but can you tell me does clubfoot effect the style the way you run

  11. Lori says:

    I have it too your not alone
    I wish had balance in my club foot
    wish knew some snow activitys people club foot can do
    so I won’t feel left out any ideas?

    • Jonathan Thompson says:

      The only thing that keeps US from doing anything is ourselves. If you want to do it then give it your best shot at the very least you tried.

  12. Kevin says:

    Hey Ryan. I just came across your story and wanted to let you know I feel you pain! I’m in my mid 30’s and had corrective surgery on my feet when I was 1 year old. Both of my feet unfortunately were over corrected which resulted in both feet being flat footed. I got the crazy looking ankles and skinny calves going on as well and unfortunately have been self conscience for as long as I can remember. I also feel like I dealt with this issue as a challenge and do not think I have backed down one bit! I played soccer the majority of my childhood but also dealt with a large amount of pain as a result. Unfortunately my freshman year of highschool I ended up dislocating my right knee cap (unsure if this was due to my flat feet or club foot surgery but I’ve been told that my knees and hips may be affected since my feet were over corrected) which I was never able to rehab back enough to be competitive again in soccer. I’m sorry to hear about your multiple surgeries and complications. I was fortunate I only had one surgery and both of my feet are relatively the same now. However I also feel the pain when I over exert myself. Over the past 2 years I decided to make a diet change and was able to lose 55 pounds which DRAMATICALLY helped with my ankle pain. I went from being in pain every night with my ankles throbbing when I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep, to only being in pain once every couple weeks. I have often thought about pursuing corrective surgery (to fix my over corrected feet) in the future if it gets back to affecting my every day life but after reading your story about fusing bones and losing mobility that just scares me more. I am fairly naive about club feet because I’ve always tried to ignore it in hopes it would go away. I also read online and have gotten info in the past about causes of clubfeet and have some resentment towards my mother because from what I read alcohol, smoking and drugs during pregnancy evidently increase the risk of this condition occurring. Anyway I’ve rambled on long enough. I appreciate you putting your information out there and wish you and your family the best of luck. -Kevin

    • Jon says:

      Hi Kevin my story as a the top, forgive me but just concerned me about your issues with your Mum and clubfoot, just so you know, there is no proof or evidence of what causes Clubfoot, the only possible pattern they have identified it hereditary, so i wouldent blame your mum, Its wont be good for your mind set of your life moving forward regardless.

  13. david says:

    Hello! My name is David. Im a 18 year university student. I was born with clubbed feet and have had multiple surgeries as a child on my feet. A good amount time of my childhood was spent on wearing casts. The feet pain have never limited me to playing sports. There was always great pain involved in all the sports I played. (Basketball League, Football for school & Soccer league). However at some points, the pain is so great in my feet, it feels like my foot will have a stroke and hurts really bad to move the foot for several mins. Typical pain like this is daily. It is frustrating but I work my way around the pain. I work out and have a healthy body. The most frustrating part of my life is that I have the most utterly looking legs. My left foot is still in bad shape and bends inwards when I walk. My calfs and legs are so skinny my hand can fit around it. I went to the doctor and it seems I will have another surgery on my left foot to attempt to relieve some of the pain. But the worst part is that he told me my legs will never grow. I cant stand wearing shorts in public and everyone making comments upon my “chicken legs”. I hate this:( — For the past two years Ive trained my calfs nearly everyday morning and night. It a mental disaster for me and I feel like Ive been defeated…

  14. Tina Nichols says:

    Hello Ryan, I too was born with bilateral club feet (if that means both were club?) Anyway, I had braces, casts to my thighs, surgery finally when I was in 3rd grade and casts the rest of the years so I had a tutor.

    I am now 55 years old. I never knew there was pain involved, I’ve never felt any pain at all that I can remember. I have horrible balance so when I take classes at the gym they are constantly telling me I need to keep my heels down when I do squats! No one understands! Plus EVERYONE makes fun of my skinny ankles and calves, but I wear shorts anyway!! I actually run a lot, it seems like one thing I can do, however, they call me baby steps……oh well, at least I can run. Hills are super hard for me. I can’t water or snow ski or roller skate or skate board because I can’t bend my knees without my heels coming off the ground. I tried to join the Marines, but because I could squat all the way to the floor without going on my tip toes, I couldn’t join which I cried because I was trying to join on the buddy system with my girlfriend!! Anyway, I don’t tell anyone what I have either because they don’t understand. I feel like I have a disease that no one understands. That is why I looked it up today on Google, to see if anyone out there could relate. I am married and my husband too understands. But I do feel all alone and I hate telling my instructors at the gym why I can’t do the exercise right. But I still go 🙂 I look forward to hearing from you. I’m sorry about your pain. The only thing I know about my surgery was they took a tendon from my shin and added to my Achilles tendon which at least brought my feet down to the ground. Before I was always on my tip toes!!

    • Nick says:

      Hey Tina my name is Nick. I was born with club feet too. I play football in high school and when we work out we do a lot weight lifting that has to deal with squats ex. (Power clean, snatch, front and back squats) I can’t stay on my heels when I squat and my coaches don’t really understand. Any tips on how I could squat better?

      • Andrew says:

        Hey Nick, its basically almost impossible – due to the restricted flexibility in clubfooted ankles. It can help however, if you invest in heel elevated shoes (Olympic shoes). Try putting your heel on a curb or a ledge (try multiple heights), you’ll notice that when you squat now, it’ll be much easier, this is what the Olympic shoes are for, the elevation reduces the need for more ankle flexion. The unfortunate thing is that the average elevated heel size is about 0.75 inches which barely helped me squat better, perhaps you are quite lucky with your flexibility and that’s all you need? However, there is a solution – achilles lengthening surgery-which probably isn’t the best choice for someone in highschool as it will put you in a wheelchair and you will need to learn to walk again through rehab. Hope the elevated heels help!

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