Fibular Hemimelia is a very rare disorder, occurring in only 1 in 40,000 births. Those affected by this disorder generally have a missing or short fibula. It is one of the two bones in the lower legs. Generally, doctors can learn about this condition even before the baby is born, i.e., during the ultrasound.
Therefore, it allows the parents to prepare their minds and take extra care of the newborn. Nonetheless, it is crucial for parents to understand what Fibular Hemimelia exactly is.
So, let’s get started!
What Is Fibular Hemimelia?
In medical terms, it is a congenital longitudinal deficiency of the fibula. Generally, it is in the lower leg, but it can also affect the foot and ankle of the child. Although it is extremely rare, the missing or shorter fibula can be reported in both legs.
Signs And Symptoms
Here are some of the common signs of deficiency that parents might see during the birth of a baby.
● One leg is generally shorter than the other due to missing bone.
● The ankle joint may not form as it should and probably looks different from usual.
● The knee and lower leg of the baby might bend inward (Knock knees).
● The lower leg might also bow out.
● Absence of toes.
Besides these, there are some other issues that are not physically visible. However, these can be discovered with physical examination and tests. Generally, these include:
● Ligaments that hold the knee together might also be missing or weak.
● The hip joint might be too shallow.
30 to 79% of the children have these symptoms. Moreover, the child might have difficulty walking.
Causes Of Fibular Hemimelia
Unfortunately, there is no scientific or medical cause behind fibular hemimelia. Nonetheless, one thing is sure that it is not related to the way a mother takes care of herself during pregnancy. It is natural and can not be stopped from happening.
Note: Parents who find out about this condition tend to blame themselves for not taking proper care during pregnancy. However, it is not true! Therefore, instead of putting extra pressure on yourself, you need to focus on taking the utmost care of your newborn baby.
As mentioned above, this condition is often diagnosed during pregnancy. Regular ultrasound scans show the baby’s bones as they start growing. So, if the bone is shorter or missing, the doctor can easily detect it.
However, if the mother didn’t get a scan (which is very rare), she will find out about this condition after the birth.
Generally, doctors conduct the following tests to learn more about the condition:
● MRI: It helps see ligaments and other soft tissues in the joint and foot.
● X-rays: It shows what the bones and joints look like. Thus, helps evaluate how severe the condition of the child is.
The treatment of fibular hemimelia generally depends upon how the child is affected. If the limb length difference is mild, there is a need for very little treatment. On the other hand, if the difference in limb length is large and joints are unstable, its treatment will be regular and for a very long duration. As when the baby starts growing, the problems start to increase.
For instance, the leg with missing/shorter bone might not grow as fast or long as it should. Due to this, the kid might also face trouble for walking and standing. Therefore, it is essential to get the proper treatment.
Usually, for treatment, different professionals work as a team. The team is led by orthopedic specialists, and they work with different specialists as per the case. It might include an orthopedist and a physical therapist. They will diagnose the child’s condition and come up with a treatment plan to help your baby stand, walk and play, just like normal kids.
The treatment plan is created based on the following questions:
● How much bone is missing?
● What is the difference between the length of legs?
● How will it affect a child’s growth?
● Does the child have any foot or ankle-related problems?
In addition to this, you might also have to bring your child for a visit over a few months. It will help the team decide the best plan for your child.
Also, if the difference between leg lengths is a lot, your kid might be recommended to wear a shoe insert or special shoes. If the condition is more critical, doctors might also suggest getting surgeries.
Nonetheless, make sure that the healthcare professionals have CPD accredited training certificates. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is essential for every healthcare professional to provide the best care and support to people or kids suffering from lower limb conditions. Obviously, you want to select nothing but the best for your child. Therefore, if your selected healthcare professional doesn’t have the certification, you can ask them to get one.
How can parents help?
The kids with fibular hemimelia need continuous support and care till they are done growing, i.e., till the age of 18. Apart from the doctors, parents also play a very crucial role in overall treatment. Here are a few things that you can do for your child:
1. Talk with your child’s care team. Ask them about the treatment, surgery, and how you can take care of your child after the surgery.
2. DO NOT miss out on any of the surgery or treatments. It is essential to perform certain surgeries at a specific period. Otherwise, the treatment can get affected.
3. Communicate with your kid. They might feel different from the other kids while growing up, so they need emotional support more than anything. Therefore, no matter what, be always there for your baby. If they are grown up, you can also include them in the treatment or surgery decisions.
4. Schedule counseling for your kid. There could be a possibility that your child might not share their concerns with you. Scheduling counseling ensures that they are not suffering mentally.
To Sum It All Up!
Make sure that you select the best doctors for your child and consider every treatment suggested. And, if you have any doubts, you must ask the specialists about it.