World-Class Orthopedic Care for Children with Blount's Disease
A condition that affects the growth plates and bones around the knees, Blount's disease causes bowed legs in children.
While some bowing is common in most young infants, if you notice your child's legs don't begin to straighten by the time they begin walking – usually around one or two – consider making an appointment to discuss Blount's disease symptoms with a physician at Shriners Children's.
Depending on how old your child is, a physical exam and X-rays will confirm whether he or she has infantile or adolescent Blount's disease. Then, your care team will begin discussing treatment options to correct the bowlegged deformity.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
Types and Causes of Blount's Disease
Types of Blount's Disease
As you interact with your child’s team of physicians, surgeons and physical therapists, you may hear them refer to your child’s condition in one of these ways:
Infantile Blount's disease: In children under 2, bowed legs are relatively normal and typically improve by 18 to 24 months. Infantile Blount’s disease generally appears around the same age, but instead of improving, the bowing worsens.
- Occurs in infants ranging from newborn to 3 years old.
- Usually affects both legs (bilateral).
- Deformity is found in the shin bone (tibia) only.
Adolescent Blount's disease: In children over 10, we refer to Blount's disease as "adolescent." Symptoms of adolescent Blount's disease include knee pain and instability.
- Occurs in children over 10.
- More likely to affect only one leg.
- Deformity is typically found in both the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone.
Causes of Blount's Disease
While the exact cause of Blount’s disease remains unknown, the condition does tend to run in families.
Additionally, children with infantile Blount’s disease are typically overweight and/or early walkers (prior to 12 months) while adolescent Blount’s disease may be related to rapid weight gain or obesity.
Treating Blount's Disease
At Shriners Children's, care means more than just treating a disease. It means ensuring you and your child are comfortable with the treatment your physician suggests. Depending on the severity of your child's condition, your physician may talk with you about one of the following treatments:
For patients with infantile Blount’s disease, bracing can work to straighten your child's legs as he or she grows. Typically, we see results within 12 months of treatment. However, if the deformity isn't corrected by the age of 4, surgery might be needed.
If bracing isn't effective, your physician might suggest one of the following surgeries as the best option for treating Blount’s disease:
Osteotomy: During this type of procedure, an orthopedic surgeon will cut the deformed bone and place it in a more normal position. We usually find this surgery corrects bowleggedness immediately.
Hemiepiphysiodesis: If correcting the leg deformity over time is the best option for your child, your physician may suggest a guided growth procedure. To stop the deformed bone from growing more and guide it into a straighter position, an orthopedic surgeon will place plates or staples on one side of your child's growth plate.