The team at Children’s Andrews Institute 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.
Limb disorders are a group of conditions that cause your child’s arms and legs to develop abnormally. 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.
When your child has a limb disorder, we know you don’t want to be kept waiting. We give you diagnostic results and a clear treatment plan as soon as possible.
Learn more about congenital and hereditary disorders that cause limb deformities.
Symptoms of Limb Disorders
Possible causes and risk factors of limb disorders include:
- Bone injuries such as fractures — especially near the growth plate
- Growth plate injuries
- Bone and joint infections, such as osteomyelitis
- Hip joint conditions, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) and hip dysplasia
Common signs and symptoms of limb disorders include:
- Pain in affected limb or nearby joint
- 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
Diagnosing Limb Disorders
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:
- Physical exam: Looks at your baby’s limbs and measures limb-lengths to test for discrepancy
- 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
Treating Limb Disorders
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.
Our nonsurgical treatments include:
- Orthotics: Shoe lifts for children with minor leg length discrepancy
- Bracing: Leg braces to correct knock-knees or bow legs
Our surgical treatments include:
- 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-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).
- 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.
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 FAQs
Will my child experience pain with limb lengthening?
Your child may experience some pain and discomfort as limb lengthening occurs. However, our orthopaedic 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.