Many people who are bow-legged (a condition called varus) or knock-kneed (a condition called valgus) do not realize how much extra stress they are putting on their knees. A normally aligned knee is designed to distribute weight equally to the inner and outer part of the joint.
This uneven distribution of stress increases the wear and tear on one side of the knee and increases the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis, especially if you are overweight. Because the knee no longer glides smoothly, walking or climbing stairs becomes painful.
What are the possible solutions?
One solution to relieve pain and improve knee function is a surgical procedure called an osteotomy, which realigns the lower leg so that the opposite side of the knee now carries most of the weight-bearing load. In an osteotomy, a wedge-shaped piece of bone is removed from the leg just above or below the knee, and the cut surfaces of the bones are fastened in place with a plate and screws.
While continuous passive motion of the knee can begin immediately after the operation, toe touching is the only weight-bearing activity allowed for four weeks to allow the bone to fuse. Eight to 10 weeks after surgery, exercises to tone and strengthen the muscles may begin. Stationary biking, treadmill and outdoor walking, straight leg raises and use of the elliptical trainer may enable you to feel totally comfortable during normal activities after three to six months.
If surgery is not an option some of my patients have experienced relief from knee braces that “unload” or “unweight” the knee on the side that is bearing more weight. Ask us and we can recommend reliable sources to purchase the braces.
Because rehabilitation plays an important role in achieving a successful outcome, we can work with your surgeon to design an exercise program that will restore your range of motion and train your gait, while protecting the healing bone.
If you are considering this or any other knee procedure, talk with us before your surgery so that we can plan for your successful rehabilitation.
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