Leg Deformity

What is a leg deformity?

A leg deformity is any abnormality in the normal alignment of the leg occurring either within the bone or at the level of a joint.

What causes deformities to occur in the leg?

Lower extremity deformities can occur for several reasons including:  traumatic injury with growth plate disruption, injury to stabilizing ligaments, fractures that have healed in an improper position, congenital neurologic disorders (i.e. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, cerebral palsy, and myelomeningocele), acquired neurologic disorders (i.e. stroke, traumatic brain injury, and post-poliomyelitis), and arthritic diseases. 

Do all leg deformities require surgical correction?

All lower extremity deformities do not require an operation.  The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to many changes including mild alterations in anatomic alignment.  Furthermore, there are conservative options available for consideration as well such as bracing and orthotic devices that can provide relief and assist function. 

When is surgery considered for correction of a leg deformity?

There is a point where the human body can no longer compensate and conservative measures become inadequate.  This is when surgery may be indicated to decrease your pain level and potentially improve function.

Also, some moderate to severe deformities may benefit from earlier operative intervention to prevent the progressive arthritic breakdown of the lower extremity joints. 

What kind of procedures can be performed to correct a leg deformity?

Lower extremity deformities are highly variable in type and complexity.  There are many different procedures and devices to support bone alignment available which have been developed for correcting deformities.

These procedures include: ligament repair and augmentation techniques, osteotomies (saw cuts in the bone) to manipulate alignment, and fusions to stabilize unstable or arthritic joints. 

Surgical bone cuts and fusions can be stabilized with internal fixation meaning internal plates and screws which remain under the skin as well as external fixation (a cage type of device) which is a more complex and yet more versatile technique which involves rings and pins on the outside of the skin which requires eventual removal.