Limb Disorders

The team at the Children’s Health℠ Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine has extensive experience diagnosing and treating limb disorders, including knock-knees, bowed legs and leg-length discrepancy.

Our physicians tailor treatment to your child’s unique symptoms and offer comprehensive care with sophisticated, effective therapies such as guided growth for limb-length discrepancy.

What are Limb Disorders?

Limb disorders are a group of conditions that cause your child’s arms and legs to develop abnormally.

What are the different types of Limb Disorders?

In children, these conditions include:

Limb deformity

Some children have limbs that form abnormally as they grow. Common conditions include knock-knees and bowed legs.

Limb-length discrepancy

Most often, children with significant limb-length discrepancy (difference in length of the arms or legs) have a history of bone injury, infection or disease. Sometimes, neurological conditions or arthritis are the cause.

What are the signs and symptoms of Limb Disorders?

Common signs and symptoms of limb disorders include:

  • Difficulty using limbs properly in actions like throwing, walking and running
  • Noticeable deformity or significant difference in the length of one limb versus the other
  • Pain in affected limb or nearby joint

How are Limb Disorders diagnosed?

Limb disorders are diagnosed with a physical examination and a review of your child’s medical history. We will also order an imaging scan to help with the diagnosis.

Diagnostic tools include:

  • X-ray: Uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to take detailed images of the bones in both limbs (affected and non-affected) to make a comparison
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: Uses X-rays to make detailed images of the affected and non-affected limb for comparison
  • Physical exam: Looks at your child’s limbs and measures limb-lengths to test for discrepancy

What are the causes of Limb Disorders?

Possible causes and risk factors of limb disorders include:

How are Limb Disorders treated?

A child diagnosed with a limb disorder can still live a normal life with the help of our multidisciplinary team. We bring together specialists with considerable expertise to treat the full range of potential conditions.

Nonsurgical treatments

  • Orthotics: Shoe lifts for children with minor leg length discrepancy
  • Bracing: Leg braces to correct knock-knees or bow legs

Surgical treatments

  • Guided growth procedure: Used to correct knock-knees and bowed legs in children, this minimally invasive surgery attaches screws and a small, figure eight-shaped plate to the bone. When attached, these tools minimize pressure on the growth plate, allowing the bone to correct gently over time.
  • Limb-lengthening procedures: With this advanced procedure, physicians slowly pull the shorter limb’s bones apart using pins, to lengthen the limb and encourage natural regeneration. The limb is supported by a brace during the lengthening.
  • Limb-shortening procedures: These effective techniques shorten the longer limb by slowing its growth rate or removing a section of bone (bone resection is only done in teens who have stopped growing).

After treatment, our physicians work collaboratively with in-house physical therapists to create an individualized rehabilitation plan for your child’s unique needs.

Limb Disorders Doctors and Providers

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will my child experience pain with limb lengthening?

    Your child may experience some pain and discomfort as limb lengthening occurs. However, our orthopedic subspecialists work with you and your child to manage the pain with appropriate, effective medications. Our goal is to minimize your child’s pain.

  • What are the risks associated with limb lengthening?

    Every surgery has a certain level of risk. With limb lengthening, there’s the chance for joint dislocation or infection. Our physicians take every necessary precaution to avoid these risks. We schedule regular appointments to examine your child’s progress and test for any possible complications.


Learn more about limb disorders in children: