Blount’s disease is a condition that affects children in one or both legs at the knee, causing a bowlegged shape. This condition causes the inner-facing growth plate to grow much more slowly than the plate on the outer side of the knee, therefore creating a bowlegged appearance.
Many children have a bit of bowleggedness when they first start walking or if they are overweight; this deformity normally straightens out naturally as the growth plates on either side of the knee finish growing. However, if a doctor determines that treatment is necessary in order to prevent permanent deformity, children can wear leg braces to keep the legs straight while they grow.
Blount’s Disease at Different Ages
In infantile Blount’s disease, the common treatment is to have the child wear braces on their legs for about a year. The doctor will then evaluate the child to see whether the braces are working, whether the child must continue wearing (larger) braces, or whether the child’s body isn’t responding well to the braces – and may later require surgery.
In adolescent Blount’s disease, the child may experience instability and pain in the knee. Surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity in order to avoid improper growth of the bone.
Different Types of Surgery for Blount’s Disease
If the child reaches age four and the problem persists, the child will likely require surgery to correct the deformity. An osteotomy surgically repairs the issue by cutting and realigning the bone, and this is a permanent fix.
A tibial osteotomy is a procedure whereby the surgeon cuts and realigns the bone just below the knee, and the tibia (the main lower leg bone) is reshaped into a more natural position. The bone is held in place with internal fixation or an external frame while the bone heals.
A hemiepiphysiodesis is when staples or plates are implanted to stifle the bone’s growth on one side while the other side is allowed to keep growing normally, thereby encouraging a more normal growth on both sides of the leg. This procedure is a more gradual fix than an osteotomy.
The doctor will likely have to cast the affected leg(s), and the child may require crutches. Patients can typically lead fully active lives as long as the surgery successfully aligned the knee with the rest of the leg.
Blount’s disease has been known to recur, especially in young children. Even after corrective surgery, it can come back a second time. If the condition is not corrected properly by a skilled orthopedist, then problems such as leg-length discrepancy can happen and may eventually cause disability or a severe limp.
Bone Physicians in North Dakota
The way to find out whether your child has Blount’s disease is for an orthopedic doctor to examine the child and perform X-rays. If the condition is present, and it is still in the early stages, it is easily treatable.
If you have a child who may have Blount’s disease or some other musculoskeletal issue, getting a proper diagnosis and treatment is key. Contact our team at The Bone & Joint Center today by calling (800) 424-2663 or request an appointment online, and help your child grow up to be healthy and strong.