Blount disease is a growth condition that impacts the bones of the lower leg, triggering them to bow outward. In more youthful kids, simply the tibia (shin bone) is affected. In teenagers, it’s generally both the tibia and the thigh (thigh bone).
Understanding a Blount Disease in Babies
Many babies are born with slightly bowed legs from being in the small area of the womb. Their legs usually straighten out as they grow and begin walking.
Blount disease is different. The curve worsens if it’s not treated, so early medical diagnosis is crucial.
The natural history of Blount disease results in irreversible pathologic changes, specifically at the medial part of the proximal tibial epiphysis due to the fact that of growth disturbances of the physis.
Most kids who get Blount disease are overweight or gained weight very quickly. It’s also more common in people of African heritage, kids who began walking at an early age, and those with a family member who had it.
In Blount disease, a great deal of pressure is put on the development plate (an area of growing bone tissue) at the top of the tibia. As a result, the bone can’t grow usually. The lateral (external) side of the tibia keeps growing but the median (inner) side of the bone does not.
This uneven bone growth causes the tibia to flex outside rather of grow straight. One leg might also become a little shorter than the other.
Symptoms of Blount Disease in Babies
The most apparent symptom of Blount disease is a bowing of the leg listed below the knee. In young kids, it’s generally not painful, though it can impact the method they walk. For preteens and teens, Blount disease may cause knee pain that gets worse with activity.
The tibia can be rotated along with bowed, causing a condition called in-toeing (when the feet point inward rather of straight out).
Over time, Blount disease can result in arthritis of the knee joint and, in severe cases, difficulty walking.
When doctors suspect Blount disease, they may recommend taking a child to an orthopedic doctor (bone expert) for leg X-rays and more assessment.
Mild bone modifications can be hard to spot in kids below 2 since their bowed legs may be regular and straighten on their own. It’s much easier for doctors to diagnose Blount disease in kids after age 2.
Treatment for Blount Disease in Babies
Treatment of Blount disease depends upon a child’s age and how curved the bone is.
Typically, physicians will simply keep a close eye on the condition in children younger than 2. Kids 2 to 4 years of ages and those with severe bowing may require leg braces, called KAFOs (knee-ankle-foot orthotics). KAFOs, which go from the thigh to the toes, are developed for kids using a mold of their leg. The hope is that the braces gradually shift leg bones to a straighter position over time. However, physicians have differing viewpoints on KAFOs. If you have questions about them, talk to your doctor.
Older kids and teenagers, or kids who don’t get better wearing KAFOs, might require surgery:
- The surgeon can cut the bone, correct it, and fasten it with plates and screws. This is called an osteotomy.
- Another procedure can slow or stop the growth of half of the growth plate to enable the opposite to catch up and correct the alignment of the leg.
- A device called an external fixator can be placed on the beyond the leg and connected to the bones after they are cut. It holds the bones in location while gradually correcting the leg.
If surgery is needed, it will be done under general anesthesia. This means your child will be sedated and sleeping and will not feel anything. Later, your child might wear a cast or use crutches and a wheelchair for a while. Physical therapy also might be needed.
Most kids who are treated for Blount disease get better and have active lives.
If being obese caused the Blount disease, it is necessary for parents to help their child reach and maintain a healthy weight. This can lower stress on the bones and joints and prevent other long-lasting issues from weight gain (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease).
If you require assistance getting your child to adopt a healthier lifestyle that includes a well balanced diet and workout, talk to your doctor.