Knee Malalignment

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An Overview on Knee Malalignment
(Bow Legged and Knocked Knees)

In a properly balanced knee, the body’s weight is evenly transferred through the middle of the joint. This allows the body’s weight to be evenly distributed across the medial (inside) and the lateral (outside) compartments of the knee. Patients affected by malalignment of the lower extremity, also know as bow legged or knocked knees, are prone to developing knee injury and pain. Dr. Jervis Yau, orthopedic knee specialist, is available to assist patients living in the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California area suffering from malalignment through conservative and surgical treatment options.

Varus (bowleg) and valgus (knock-knee) deformities are commonly caused by congenital deformity,  joint injury, meniscal deficiency and osteoarthritis. Patients who have varus deformity will have the body’s weight passing primarily through the medial (inside) of the knee.  Patients with valgus deformity will have the body’s weight passing primarily through the lateral (outside) of the joint. Both conditions can be worsened through overuse, obesity or injury.

Bow Legged and Knocked Knees Symptoms

The most common symptom of varus and valgus knee malalignment is medial and lateral joint pain, respectively. The pain will intensify if the condition is left untreated or a knee injury occurs. Patients suffering from malalignment may also experience persistent joint stiffness, swelling and inflammation.

Bow Legged and Knocked Knees Diagnosis

A thorough physical examination will be performed by Dr. Yau to diagnose the correct malalignment condition. He will utilize a variety of tests to check overall leg alignment. He will also examine the knee’s balance to see how weight is distributed while in a standing position. Dr. Yau may perform a series of x-rays and MRI to determine the severity of malalignment and injury.  This will aid in determining the optimal treatment plan.

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Bow Legged and Knocked Knees Treatment

Non-Surgical

Dr. Yau commonly begins treatment for varus and valgus malalignment through a conservative approach. A special knee brace called an unloader brace is commonly used along with anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), activity modifications and physical therapy.  Various injection therapies may also be used to aid in decreasing pain and improving function of the knee joint.

Surgical

Patients requiring surgery have several options available to improve the degree of malalignment.  Typically, younger patients will be considered for re-alignment procedures known as a knee osteotomy.  The procedure requires a precise bone cut in order to correct the knee deformity. For the older population, uni-compartmental or total knee replacement are the treatment of choice.  Details regarding the best surgical treatment option for malalignment will be determined and explained by Dr. Yau  at the patient’s initial consultation.

For additional resources on the conditions known as bow legged and knocked knees, or to determine if you require surgery to correct your knee malalignment, please contact the Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria and Ventura, California orthopedic office of knee specialist Dr. Jervis Yau.

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