The alignment of our legs has evolved in a beautifully precise way, such that our weight is evenly distributed across our joints to minimise the onset of arthritis and degenerative change. If, however, the alignment of our legs changes significantly, our weight distribution places abnormal forces across the cartilage of our joints. The cartilage can wear away and lead to the development of arthritis.
Certain conditions can cause our legs to become “malaligned” which is referred to as a “deformity” in medical terms. Trauma, infection, degenerative change and congenital conditions all influence the shape of our legs and may lead to the early onset of arthritis if not corrected. Alternatively, in cases that have already started to develop arthritis, correction of the deformity may prevent progression of the problem and might temporarily relieve symptoms of pain.
Deformity correction is a procedure performed to straighten a bone that is bent or twisted in a way that is not normal. After the bone is straightened, the arm, leg, or foot has normal alignment and function.
During deformity correction surgery, Dr. Maine makes a cut across the bone – called an osteotomy – to create two separate bone segments. After straightening the bone to the correct position, Dr. Maine will insert an internal device to keep the bones in the correct position while it heals. She may also opt to perform additional soft-tissue procedures at the same time to allow the muscles and nerves to accommodate the correction. After the bone heals, the internal device may be removed during a second procedure.
Depending on the individual deformity, Dr. Maine may also use fixator-assisted nailing or fixator-assisted plating to hold the bone segments in perfect alignment while the internal device (i.e. internal nail, rod, or plate) is applied. She will then remove it at the completion of the surgery.
Recovery times vary depending on the deformity, patient’s age, and patient’s general health and wellbeing. Before surgery, patients are screened for Vitamin D levels and to rule out infection or other potential problems that may affect the outcome of surgery.