Most people experience knee and hip problems when they are older. This is as a result of destruction of the bone and thinning of the cartilage. However, deformity of the knee and joint, unlike arthritis or old injuries, manifests itself in childhood and can be felt even during pregnancy.
What is knee curvature?
Knee curvature is one of the most common orthopaedic diseases as it causes changes in the gait, bringing about clubfoot. Constant pain is experienced and simple walks causes discomfort and fatigue. When the deformity is light, it does not result to pain in the normal life as it is purely aesthetic.
If the deformed knee curves inwards or outwards, it leads to the unwrapping of the hip and shin, which will alter the angle of support and curvature of bones of the leg. There are therefore two types of deformity:
- Valgus – This is whereby the knees turn inside and the legs form a silhouette similar to the letter X.
- Varus – When the knees curve outwards and the legs resemble the letter O.
The disease can also be categorised by the extent of manifestation:
- Light: This is whereby the deviation of the leg does not go beyond 15 degrees.
- Medium: It is categorised by a leg angle of 15-20 degrees and shifting of the mechanical axis of the foot to the edge of the bone.
- Heavy: This is whereby the angle of the shin exceeds 20 degrees and the knee is beyond the mechanical axis of the leg.
Causes of knee deformity
This disease can develop at any stage of life; before birth, during childhood and in an adult. A congenital anomaly in the shape of the knees occurs to the mother during pregnancy when:
- there was toxic poisoning
- there were frequent stressful situations
- there was antibiotic treatment
- there were problems with the endocrine system
If the child is born healthy, there is a chance that it may experience joint deformity during the following cases:
- lack of calcium and vitamin D in food
- if the child is overweight
- if the child has a background of chronic or congenital cartilage and bone diseases
- if the child has long-term movement restrictions,
- if the child is trying too early to learn how to walk.
Lack of nutrients causes the bones and cartilage to become softer and more fragile. If the child learns how to walk early before adopting to manage its weight, the joints will inevitably warp.
An adult has several ways to acquire this disease:
- Fractures of the legs with displacement
- Rupture of ligaments and dislocation of the same knee several times
- Damage and cartilage disease
Lack of minerals and vitamins in the diet also causes problems of the knees in an adult. However, when the joints are well developed, the risk of getting a serious curvature is reduced than during growth and development.
How do you diagnose and treat?
The doctor will observe a severe deformation of the knee joint by performing a visual examination. He will do this by measuring the distance between the ankles (with vulgus deformity) or knee (in varus) when at rest. If the diagnosis is positive, the doctor will prescribe a full examination of the knees and bones of the pelvis by performing the following:
- Ultrasound diagnostics
- MRI of the joints of the leg
- CT scan of pelvis and knees
In rare cases, when the disease is at its advanced stages, the doctor will take pictures of the lumbar and sacrum spine.
If the disease began after an injury or joint pathologies, the doctor will have to work with the primary cause of the disease. It may also require images of the spine, general and biochemical tests and examination of the synovial fluid.
Treatment of the deformity includes performance of physiotherapy and massage, using orthopaedic shoes, light physical therapy and change of diet. The doctor may also prescribe chondroprotectors and anti-inflammatory drugs. In more serious cases, correction may be done using surgery.
It is necessary to get rid of the cause of the disease so as to avoid severe consequences. It causes disturbances in the structure of not only the lower limbs but also the whole body. The deformity of the knee has many side effects such as flat feet scoliosis and severe curvature of the spine. Pain in the knees and lower back will intensify with time and the patient may develop rapid fatigue especially when walking.
Prevention of curvature of the knee joints:
The first preventive measure that should be taken by the mother is to carefully monitor her diet and medications during pregnancy. If possible, she should spend most of her time in a clean area and not in contaminated places like the city centre. Any contact with toxic substances such as paints, solvents and insecticides should be avoided.
During the early years, the child should receive a sufficient amount of vitamin D and calcium by regularly going outdoors. Their movements should not be limited or rather you should not force them to start walking before they are ready to do so. If the child has an innate tendency to weak joints, it should be examined by a specialist so that he may advice on the right diet to be taken or physical activity to be done.
An adult has enough resources to lead a healthy lifestyle by regularly engaging in physical activity, eating a balanced diet and wearing comfortable shoes. You should take care of yourself after injuries and treat infectious diseases on time before they spread to other body parts.
In order to prevent the development of an existing deformity, ensure that you follow instruction from the doctor; which includes taking the prescribed drugs, using orthopaedic shoes and practising regular physical activity. It is also essential that you watch your diet so that it contains the right amounts of vitamins and minerals. These actions will not only assist in curbing joint problems but also relive many other unpleasant consitions.
Moreover, in case you feel pain or your child has any form of pain in the knee or changes in the gait, then visit your doctor with immediate effect. Knee deformity is easier to treat when it is in the early stages as most of the symptoms are still invisible.