The so-called Blount’s disease, also called Blount’s syndrome, Blount’s disease or Erlacher-Blount’s syndrome, describes a disturbed growth of the inner lower leg bone (the tibia). This leads to an arched deformation of the bone, which is usually shown by a kink just below the knee. In more than half of those affected, both legs are deformed.
What is Blount’s Disease?
According to topbbacolleges.com, blount’s disease or Blount’s syndrome is a defective growth of the inner lower leg bone. This malformation usually results in an arched deformation or bending of the bone. In most cases, a kink or arch also forms directly below the knee.
Furthermore, patients suffering from Blount’s disease often stand out due to the different lengths of the lower limbs and a very noticeable protruding shin. Blount syndrome very often occurs in early childhood, but is only noticed later – for example in elementary school age. In addition, a distinction is made between two types: the infantile and the adolescent (belated) form.
The former occurs predominantly in children under ten years of age and affects both legs. The latter form often affects young people, often only on one leg. Overall, however, both legs of the patient are affected in around 60 percent of the cases. However, the actual frequency (prevalence) of the syndrome is not fully known to date. But: Blount’s disease is relatively rare and occurs more frequently in South African countries.
According to various experts and studies, Blount’s syndrome is often favored by being overweight and / or by running very early. In addition, premature closure or narrowing of the medial growth plate of the lower leg bone is often suspected.
In this case, the forces that act on the growth plate when walking, for example, are too great – deformation occurs. However, there appear to be several factors that can contribute to deformation of the upper part of the tibia. It is not yet known what role genetic predispositions may play.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
Blount’s disease is basically manifested by a deformation or bending of the lower leg bone on one or both sides. In medicine, it is usually referred to as a deformation of the upper part of the tibia. A distinction is made between an early form and a late form. The former very often affects overweight children under the age of ten.
The late form occurs more frequently in adolescence and usually only on one side – but the disease is rarely diagnosed here after the age of 15. In the vernacular, legs that are deformed by Blount’s syndrome are also often referred to as ” bowlegs “. The affected children usually do not feel pain, but if left untreated, the deformation can later lead to severe impairments.
Diagnosis & course
Blount’s disease can usually only be successfully diagnosed from the age of two, as a slight O-shape of the legs is difficult to see in very young children. Since the affected children usually feel no pain and (at the beginning) no impairment, the disease is also often only noticed a little later.
Clinically, affected children are usually noticeable between the ages of two and ten because of their bow legs. If there is a suspicion that a patient suffers from Blount’s syndrome, this suspicion is confirmed or eliminated by various examinations such as X-ray examinations. Without treatment, the deformation of the limbs can take on severe proportions and lead to symptoms or secondary diseases such as arthritis of the knee joints at a very early stage.
In Blount’s disease, the legs are usually deformed. However, both do not have to be affected; in many cases, unilateral malformations and deformations also occur. The lower leg bone in particular is severely bent, so that movement is restricted by Blount’s disease. The patient is restricted in his mobility and depends on walking aids.
This can lead to mental health problems and decreased self-esteem. Pain is rare in Blount’s disease. Unfortunately, a diagnosis of the disease is only possible from the age of two, so treatment is delayed. The treatment itself is based on the limitation of symptoms.
There are no further complaints or complications. As a rule, splints are used that are worn for several years and are intended to straighten the bow legs. Physical therapy can also limit Blount’s disease and relieve symptoms.
In many cases, the patient has to do sports to counteract the disease. Life expectancy is not reduced by Blount’s disease. If the malformations cause pain, surgical interventions can be carried out.
When should you go to the doctor?
Parents who notice bow legs in their child should consult their family doctor immediately. The misalignment of the legs is not always due to Blount’s disease, but it must always be treated. If it is actually Blount’s disease, treatment is required. It is therefore advisable to speak to the doctor as soon as the first signs of a misalignment appear. Medical advice is required at the latest when the child complains of pain or has problems with normal movements.
If Blount’s syndrome is left untreated, secondary diseases such as arthritis of the knee joints or chronic pain can develop. Typical warning signs for such a severe course are, among other things, weakness as well as swelling and stiffness of the knee joints.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, go to your family doctor immediately and arrange for an examination. In its early form, Blount’s disease can be treated with orthopedic measures. Surgical interventions and lengthy physiotherapy measures are required later. The disease should therefore be diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
Treatment & Therapy
If Blount syndrome has been diagnosed, the orthopedic treatment must be specifically adapted to each child and each clinical picture. After all, a successful therapy depends primarily on the type, extent of the disease and the deformation of the lower leg bones.
Overall, however, Blount’s disease is treated very conservatively with splints. Depending on the extent of the disease, these have to be worn for a few weeks or months, in some and rather few cases for a few years. In addition, various orthopedic measures (special sports exercises and more) can accompany and optimize the therapy.
Surgical correction of the deformation is only necessary in a few, more severe, pronounced and / or painful cases of illness. This is more often necessary in the late form of the disease than in the early form.
Outlook & forecast
The prognosis for Blount’s disease can vary widely. It depends on the severity of the deformations and when the diagnosis is made.
In children, for example, who are diagnosed with this malformation of the legs, a good result can be achieved with a conservative therapy using splinting. This is due to the fact that children are still growing and accordingly respond better to a targeted influence on bone growth from the outside. The splint can last for months or years. Nevertheless, it is possible that complications – i.e. recurrence of misalignments of the lower legs – may occur later in life.
If Blount’s disease is diagnosed later, a splint can also be useful. However, the leg cannot grow back here, which is why conservative therapy is supplemented with special exercises. Surgical intervention becomes more necessary for treatment, the later the problem is recognized.
If left untreated, Blount’s disease leads to a number of complications that include pain, perceived instability, and more. Walking aids and generally restricted movement are the result. The life expectancy of those affected is not reduced, however, and in most cases it is possible to support the body through orthopedic measures.
Since the interaction of the individual causes and the extent to which genetic predispositions play a role in Blount’s disease has not yet been fully clarified, it is difficult to prevent deformation of the lower leg bone. According to various studies and experts, however, since children who are overweight and who started running early are often affected, parents should pay more attention to these two factors.
If you are unsure, it is advisable to consult a doctor immediately. If a disease is obvious or can be diagnosed, the doctor can initiate therapy at an early stage – for example, by having splints adjusted or by prescribing further orthopedic measures.
Deforming the upper part of the tibia may not always be avoided, but its effects can be limited. Forbidding the child to walk out of fear of an illness, for example because the parents or siblings are or were affected, but this is not a good way of prevention.
For Blount’s disease, aftercare also focuses on physical therapy measures. Physiotherapy and regular exercise can stabilize the mobility of the affected lower leg bone. Massages and measures from alternative medicine, for example acupuncture, can also support recovery.
Medical follow-up focuses on follow-up checks. These take place monthly and then every six months. Depending on the type and severity of Blount’s syndrome, however, the cycle can vary greatly. Therefore, patients should consult their doctor closely.
This is also important with regard to any complications, which should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible. If Blount syndrome occurs on both sides, further follow-up examinations may be necessary. It must be checked whether the condition has led to malpositions and, as a result, to joint wear and other complaints.
If this is the case, therapy with pain relievers must be continued. In addition, further physiotherapeutic measures are necessary. Blount’s disease in young children can be treated effectively. Follow-up care usually has to be continued for a few years, but should regress in the long term.
If the disease persists into adulthood, full recovery is not expected. Then, as part of the aftercare, curative measures are carried out to improve the patient’s quality of life.
You can do that yourself
People with Blount’s disease can go through severe disease, but can be treated well with orthopedic measures. Some self-help measures can accompany and optimize conventional medical treatment.
Physical exercises such as yoga, Pilates or classical physiotherapy are particularly recommended. The arch muscles in particular should be trained and stretched regularly – for example by repeatedly lifting the toes and doing other stretching exercises from sports. After the diagnosis of Blount’s disease, a general change in lifestyle is often a good idea.
With a healthy body weight and an all-round well-cared for organism, bow-legs and their consequences can at least be contained. It is recommended that those affected use a nutrition plan, which is best worked out in cooperation with the attending physician or a nutritionist.
The specialist can also give tips against the characteristic pain. In addition to the classic medicines, medicinal plants such as willow bark or peppermint can also be used here. Finally, speak to the doctor regularly and take therapeutic support measures at an early stage. Therapeutic advice and participation in self-help groups can also reduce the psychological complaints that can be associated with Blount’s disease.