Blount’s disease is a disorder that causes the legs to bow outward. Normal childhood bowed legs tends to straighten as a child gets older but legs affected by Blount’s disease tend to get worse over time.
The main causes of Blount’s disease are believed to be obesity and early walking. The tibia is a weight bearing bone located in the lower leg. Growing children have a growth plate located at the top of this bone. When the growth plate is placed under more weight / pressure than it can comfortably bear the tibia becomes compressed and bows outwards instead of lengthening as it grows. This results in shorter bowed bones instead of longer straight bones.
The most common symptom of Blount’s disease is bowing of the leg below the knee. In some cases pain may be present and the condition can lead to arthritis of the knee.
The first step in diagnosis is a physical examination. Next x-rays are taken to confirm abnormal bone growth at the top of the tibia and to assess the severity of the bowing. Blood tests may also be ordered to confirm the presence of Blount’s disease versus other conditions with similar symptoms.
Treatment options for Blount’s disease are based on the age of the patient and severity of their condition. Braces are effective for most children who are treated before the age of three. Older children or those with severe Blount’s disease typically require surgery to realign the tibia and/or remove the growth plate.
Weight loss can be effective in slowing / halting the progression of Blount’s disease in cases where the condition is a result of the child being overweight.
- Rull, G. (2010, April 20) Blount’s Disease. Patient.co.uk. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Blount’s-Disease.htm
- Loveland, K. (2013, June) Blount Disease. KidsHealth.org. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/bones/blount_disease.html#