Definition

What is Blount disease?

Blount disease is a growth disorder that affects the bones of the lower leg, causing them to bow outward. Blount disease is also referred to as Tibia vara.

Blount’s disease is classified into two types:

  • Infantile Blount’s disease.
  • Adolescent Blount’s disease.

When occurring in infants, this condition usually affects bilaterally i.e. both the legs are affected. Meanwhile, when occurring in adolescents, it usually affects unilaterally i.e. only one leg is affected.

With Blount disease — whether it starts in early childhood or the teen years — the curve gets worse if it’s not treated. So early diagnosis is very important.

How common is Blount disease?

Blount disease can affect people at any time during the growing process, but it’s more common in kids younger than 4 and in teens. Infantile Blount disease ratio is recorded as 0.007 or less than 1% in the population of young children in the United States. The adolescent Blount disease cases may reach 2.5% in United States. In some cases Blount disease may also increase due to affected family members. 70 percent of infantile cases are bilateral. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of Blount disease?

The most obvious sign a person might have Blount disease is bowing of the leg below the knee. In young kids this is usually not painful, but for teens it can be (it may feel like a growing pain in the knee area). The pain may come and go.

It can cause other problems, too, mainly due to the way the lower leg bears the weight of the body. The tibia can be rotated as well as bowed, causing a condition called in-toeing (when the feet point inward instead of straight out).

Over time (usually decades), Blount disease can lead to arthritis of the knee joint and trouble walking. One leg may also become slightly shorter than the other.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you or your loved one has any signs or symptoms listed above or you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes Blount disease?

Although the exact cause is still not known, the suspected causes may include overweight on the growth plate due to which inner portion of the tibia or shin bone present under the knee stops developing normally.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Blount disease?

Blount’s disease more commonly affects African-American children. Early walking, obesity and a family history could also be responsible for Blount’s disease.

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Blount disease diagnosed?

If your legs start bowing — especially if you also have knee pain that seems to be getting worse and can’t be traced to an injury — your doctor may consider Blount disease as a possibility. If so, your doctor will refer you to an orthopedic specialist (a doctor who treats bone problems).

The orthopedic doctor will do a complete physical exam and also take X-rays of your legs. These let the him or her look for the abnormal bone growth patterns at the top of the tibia that are the telltale sign of Blount disease. They also help the doctor measure how severe the bowing is.

How is Blount disease treated?

How doctors treat Blount disease depends on how old the person is and how far the disease has progressed. Young kids may simply need to wear leg braces. Most older kids and teens will need surgery.

Many different types of surgeries can correct Blount disease — some involve cutting the tibia, realigning it, and holding it in place with a plate and screws (this is called an osteotomy); some involve removing the damaged growth plate; and some use a device called an external fixator to hold the bones in place from the outside. If a person’s toes turn in, surgeons may correct the twist that’s causing that, too.

If surgery is necessary, it will be done under general anesthesia (you will be completely asleep and not feel anything). Afterward, you might wear a cast and use crutches for a while. You’ll also probably need physical therapy. The good news is that most teens make a complete recovery.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Blount disease?

One lesson many people from dealing with Blount disease is the importance of getting to a healthy weight. Staying at a healthy weight can help protect bones and joints from excess wear and tear that can damage them over time.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: March 8, 2018 | Last Modified: March 8, 2018

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