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What is a bone deformity?

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A bone deformity is an atypical, structural deviation or distortion of the bone’s shape from its normal alignment, length and/or size. A bone deformity can be congenital or acquired.

What causes bone deformities?

Children’s bones grow and reshape themselves continually and extensively. Growth proceeds from a very vulnerable part of the bone named the growth plate (What’s the difference between Kid bones and Adult bones?). While reshaping and remodeling, old bone tissue is replaced by the new one, and many bone disorders and/or deformities come from these changes. This type of deformity is called developmental – caused by the changes that occur in a growing child’s musculoskeletal system. These deformities may get better or worse as children grow.

Bone deformities can also be:

  • Congenital – they are inherited, sometimes related to specific pathologies.
  • Post-traumatic – they occur after accidents and injuries, when the bone heals in a deformed position.
  • For unknown reason – they just happen. In this case they are called idiopathic.

How many types of bone deformity are there?

There are four main types of bone deformity:

  • a bend in the bone – called “angulation”
  • a twist in the bone – called “rotation” or “torsion”
  • a shift in the position of the bone caused by a fracture or by osteotomy – called “translation” or “displacement”
  • a difference in the length of a bone compared with the contralateral – called “limb length discrepancy”.

All these different types of bone deformity can exist on their own, but it is common to find a combination of them.