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We explore what knee realignment surgery involves.
If you have a fully functioning knee joint structure, there should be good alignment and balance between the aforementioned two parts of your knee when you are standing upright.
If your knee leans towards the outside or inside too excessively, it can put abnormal and excessive weight on the medial or lateral parts of your knee. This might need to be surgically corrected with knee realignment surgery.
Knee realignment surgery, also known as a knee osteotomy, is an operation whereby your bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment. The procedure is carried out under general anaesthetic and is commonly used to treat people who are bow-legged or have knock knees.
A mild case of knock knees (genu valgum) is relatively common in children up to the age of two years and is often corrected naturally as your child grows and develops. However, if the condition is the result of obesity or rickets (a condition that affects bone development in children), it could continue or worsen with age.
Idiopathic is a term used to describe knock knees that has no known cause.
Bow-leggedness is also called bandy-leg, bowleg, bow-leg, and tibia vara.
Knee realignment surgery involves several stages and takes place under a general anaesthetic. Using X-rays taken before the operation, your Consultant will assess the degree of realignment that needs to be undertaken.
Once these measures have been taken, your surgeon will use specialised instruments to carry out an opening wedge cut near the top of your tibia (your lower leg bone).
Your surgeon will then realign your knee's angle by levering the ends of your tibia together at the wedge of bone. The fractured ends are secured with a strong plate and screws. If necessary, a bone graft will be added to secure the fractured tibia further. The most common form of knee realignment surgery described here is termed a high tibial osteotomy.
The technique used to realign a knee depends on the correction that is required. An opening wedge osteotomy happens when your bone is cut using specialist equipment and opened with chisels to create a wedge-shaped opening.
A closing wedge osteotomy happens when your bone is cut twice and a small wedge of bone is removed.
Mobility and dressing aids such as specialised wheelchairs and dressing sticks can support your recovery following knee realignment surgery.
It is normal for osteotomy patients who have undergone knee realignment surgery to not bear any weight (non-weightbearing) on their operated leg for up to six weeks. After this period, a specialist team will take further X-rays to ensure that your fractured ends have healed sufficiently to allow you to start bearing your weight again.
Following this initial period, our physiotherapists will supervise and guide you through a comprehensive rehabilitation package until you are able to walk normally and return to your daily activities and any high-impact sports (if applicable).
Initially, rehabilitation after knee realignment surgery will often comprise of simple range of motion and flexibility exercises to ensure full mobility to yoyr knee is restored. Non-weight bearing strengthening exercises will also be advised to prepare the knee for more aggressive exercises later down the line.
Higher level rehabilitation will involve weight-bearing exercises to restore optimum function and fitness to the operated leg. These types of exercises may include:
If successful, a knee realignment surgery can help treat bowed legs or severe and persistent knock knees. Undergoing knee realignment surgery or an osteotomy due to knock knees or bowed legs can also redistribute your weight across your knee joint, relieve pressure off any damaged cartiliage and support your knee joint's life span.