Blount’s disease is a growth disorder of the shin bone (tibia) in which the lower leg turns inward, resembling a bowleg.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Blount’s disease occurs in young children and adolescents. The cause is unknown. It is thought to be due to the effects of weight on the growth plate. The inner part of the shin bone, just below the knee, fails to develop normally.
This condition is more common among African-American children. It is also associated with obesity and early walking.
One or both of the lower legs turn inward. This is called “bowing.” It may:
Look the same on both legs
Occur just below the knee
Rapidly get worse
Signs and tests
The doctor or nurse examine you. This will show that the lower legs turn inward. An
Braces are used to treat children who develop severe bowing before the age of 3.
If braces do not work, or if the problem is not diagnosed until the child is older, surgery is usually needed. Surgery may involve cutting the shin bone to place it in the proper position, and sometimes lengthening it as well.
Other times, surgery is done to restrict the growth of the outer half of the shin bone. This allows the child’s natural growth to reverse the bowing process. This much smaller surgery works best in children with less severe symptoms who still have quite a bit of growing to do.
If the leg can be placed into the proper position, the outlook is good. The leg should work properly and look normal.
Failure to treat Blount’s disease may lead to progressive deformity. The condition may lead to differences in leg lengths, which can result in disability if not treated.
Blount’s disease may come back after surgery, especially in younger children.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your child’s health care provider if your child’s leg or legs appear to be bowing. Also call for an appointment if your child has bowed legs that appear to be getting worse.
Weight loss for overweight children may be helpful.