Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Brittany Corso was born with a rare leg deformity that caused debilitating pain in her knees and ankles.
In this rare condition called miserable malalignment syndrome, Ms. Corso’s femurs (thigh bones) were excessively rotated inward, while her tibiae (shinbones) were excessively rotated outward, putting stress on her joints.
Ms. Corso couldn’t play sports and even walking for 10 or 15 minutes was painful. It sometimes hurt so much she had to stay home from work or school.
Ms. Corso saw several doctors, tried physical therapy and used various braces and orthotics. Nothing worked until she was referred to Loyola Medicine orthopaedic surgeon Mitchell Bernstein, MD, who has advanced training in the treatment of limb-alignment problems.
Also known as a torsional abnormality, miserable malalignment syndrome is an abnormal rotation of the femur, the tibia or both the femur and tibia. The abnormal rotation can be inward or outward. In most cases, the cause is unknown.
The condition typically causes knee pain, but also can cause hip, ankle and back pain. Miserable malalignment syndrome is difficult to diagnose because the legs can appear normal on X-rays. Ms. Corso suffered from the condition from childhood, but was not diagnosed until she was 22.
Dr. Bernstein corrected the problem by performing a specialized surgery on the left leg, followed six weeks later with the same surgery on the right leg. He cut the femur in half (a procedure called an osteotomy) and then rotated the two segments back to a normal position. The femur was stabilized with an internal rod. Dr. Bernstein also performed an osteotomy on the tibia and fibula (the smaller of the two bones of the lower leg). He then attached a computer-controlled external device that gradually rotated the segments of the lower leg to the proper positions.
It took about four months for each leg to heal.
“It has been a complete success,” Ms. Corso said. “I have zero to minimal pain. It’s like I never had the condition.”
In addition to treating limb-alignment problems, Dr. Bernstein performs limb-lengthening procedures to lengthen or straighten deformed bones or replace missing bone. Limb-lengthening patients include children born with limb defects and patients who have sustained severe fractures.
Loyola Medicine is nationally recognized for its expertise in diagnosing and treating a broad range of orthopaedic conditions. The orthopaedics team includes orthopaedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, radiologists, oncologists, nurses, physiatrists, therapists and pain-management specialists.