In the simplest terms, Blount’s disease can be understood as a growth disorder of the shin bone. Named after Walter Putnam Blount, the disease is also known as “tibia vara”. The disease affects the bone development of children and adolescents and results in a malformation of bone structure making the leg to bend in such a shape it looks like a bowleg. Bowlegs usually, straighten with age but a Blount’s disease is known to worsen gradually. It can affect both the legs of the victim and can cause severe bowing of the legs.
Often, Blount’s disease is accompanied by a condition known as internal tibian torsion in which the toes turn inward below the knee. Some children suffering from this problem develop a tendency to trip down frequently, while walking. Failure to treat Blount’s disease can result in progressive deformity. Differences in leg length may result, if the disability is left untreated.
Cause Of Blount’s Disease
The real cause of Blount’s disease is not known yet, though it is believed to be caused due to the effects of weight on the growth plate. Angulation of the bone is caused when the inner part of the tibia fails to develop properly obstructing the normal structuring of the bone. This condition is also associated with obesity and early walking among children and is common among children of African- American origin.
If the bowing of one or both the legs is rapidly progressive, it can be read as a symptom of Blount’s disease. The legs may also appear asymmetric and the bowing is visible just below the knee. An X-ray of the knee and the lower leg can establish the right diagnosis.
Treatment Of Blount’s Disease
Appropriate treatment at the right age is recommended in Blount’s disease. Basically, the treatment is to wear braces in children who develop severe bowing before the age of three. The brace used is called KAFO (Knee-Ankle-Foot Orethosis) brace. There are chances that bracing may fail to produce results if bowing is detected at a later age. If the braces don’t work effectively, corrective surgery may be undertaken. Surgery may be performed in some cases by cutting the shin bone and realigning it. Sometimes, the bone is also lengthened by the surgery.
In some other cases, in order to promote child’s natural growth, the growth of just the outer half of the tibia can be surgically restricted. This is done to reverse the process of bowing by facilitating normal growth of the leg. This type of surgery is most effective in children with less severe bowing and who are young enough to grow further. In over weight children, reduction of extra weight might help. If the knee is realigned by undertaking any of the above mentioned surgeries, return to normal functioning can be expected. There is also a possibility of recurrence of Blount’s disease after surgery if the child is young.