What Is Coxa Valga?

An x-ray may be performed to diagnose coxa valga.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Coxa valga is a type of hip deformity where the angle at the point where the neck and shaft of the femur meet is greater than normal. Generally, angles greater than 140 degrees are a cause for concern in adult patients. A related condition, coxa vara, is characterized by an unusually small angle at the neck of the femur. Both conditions can be diagnosed by an orthopedic doctor by evaluating the patient and looking at medical imaging studies, such as X-rays.

When children are born, this angle is naturally broad, often greater than 150 degrees. As people mature and the musculoskeletal system develops, the angle tightens, and tends to settle between 120 and 130 degrees. In people with coxa valga, the wide angle associated with childhood is retained into adolescence and adulthood. This can cause discomfort and instability in the hips, in addition to making it hard for patients to bear weight. Older adults with this condition are also at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.

This deformity is associated with muscle weakness around the hips, as seen in neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy. People with these conditions may receive regular evaluations throughout childhood to check for the early warning signs of conditions like coxa valga so they can be addressed. Physical therapy is also used to develop muscular strength with the goal of promoting healthy skeletal development.

Ad

Diagnosis of this condition requires taking an X-ray with the hip at a neutral angle so a doctor can measure the angle at the neck of the femur. It is important for the patient to hold the right position, as if the hip splays out or twists, it can change the appearance of the angle and may lead to a misdiagnosis. The patient will also be evaluated to see if issues like chronic pain in the hip or difficulty walking have developed. In a patient with no complications, the coxa valga deformity may be left, as it is without any medical intervention.

Treatment for extreme cases of coxa valga is a varus osteotomy, also called a femoral osteotomy, where an orthopedic surgeon cuts the bone and repositions it. This surgery carries risks like adverse reactions to anesthesia and infection and it is very invasive. As a result, it is only recommended when a patient is clearly in need of surgical intervention. Surgical outcomes can be improved by working with a surgeon who has substantial experience with hip deformities and surgery on the hips.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

PinkLady4
Post 2

@Bertie68 - A neighbor boy has congenital coxa valga. He gets around okay, but his gait is kind of clumsy. When he walks or runs, he is flat footed and doesn't roll his foot.

When he finishes his step, he spins on the ball of the foot. He experiences tight muscles in his legs, e.g. hamstring muscles, and the arch of his feet.

All the unusual movements of walking and running are attempts to compensate for the deformity, coxa valga. His parents are taking him to therapy to see if it will help him. Stretching exercises, abdominal strengthening, and an arch support in his shoes hopefully will help. The parents are helping him with his gait.

He loves sports, but has a hard time competing with the other boys. I hope he gets the help he needs.

Bertie68
Post 1

A good friend of mine has this condition. It is a congenital defect. When she was a child, it didn't bother her too much. As she grew older, it still was not much of a problem, but she did need to get good supportive shoes with orthodic support.

When she entered her sixties, walking up and down stairs became difficult. Now any walking causes pain and weakness.

I don't think she is considering surgery, at least at this time. The surgery sound invasive and has side effects. But, on the other hand, the risk of falling is there, plus the possibility of becoming immobile.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email