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Positional talipes (TEV) in newborn babies

Positional talipes is where a baby’s foot turns inwards and downwards.

It is a common foot condition in newborn babies that may affect one or both feet. It is sometimes known as talipes equinovarus (TEV).

In positional talipes, the foot rests down and inwards. It is fully flexible or correctable. The foot can easily be moved into a normal position.

Positional talipes is different to club foot (structural talipes). The foot cannot be gently moved back into place if you have club foot.

Causes of positional talipes

The condition is thought to be caused by the position of the baby in the mother’s uterus during pregnancy.

It is not caused by problems with the bones in their foot and will not cause any problems with walking.

A baby with a positional talipes on one or both feet should also have a hip examination. This is because babies with talipes are more at risk of having torticollis, hip dysplasia and scoliosis.

Diagnosis of positional talipes

Positional talipes is usually diagnosed after birth when the baby’s feet are examined. Your maternity hospital physiotherapist will show you how to do exercises to help your baby’s feet.

Treatment for positional talipes

Positional talipes will usually improve without any treatment within a couple of months.

But you can also help your baby by:

  • doing some simple exercises on their foot
  • making sure their clothes are not too tight around their feet
  • massaging their foot and ankle with olive oil, baby oil or baby lotion, especially around the skin creases

Exercises for positional talipes

Positional talipes is treated by gentle exercises that stretch the foot and ankle in an upwards and outwards direction. Your maternity hospital physiotherapist will show you how to do this.

The exercises can improve your baby’s positional talipes more quickly. There are no known risks or side effects to these exercises. They are not painful for your baby.

Gentle exercises to the foot will help it to come around into a normal position. It is important to do these exercises regularly. For example, with every nappy change. Exercises should be done when your baby is relaxed and should never be forced or painful.

If it’s not improving

Positional talipes usually gets better in the first few months. If you are concerned that the foot is stiff or not improving, talk to your child’s GP.

If your baby’s positional talipes does not improve within 2 months you should visit their GP as they may need more treatment. The treatment options will depend on your child’s condition.

Page last reviewed: 11 November 2021
Next review due: 11 November 2024

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.