March 1, 2021

Patient Finds Answers to Lifelong Pain with Limb Lengthening Surgery

Patient Stories

Jenna Pierpont is no stranger to pain. She has dealt with knee and back pain for her entire life.

At an early age, Jenna began seeking help for back pain. At that time, doctors discovered a significant leg length discrepancy while investigating her pain. This explained the subtle limp she had. Originally, a surgeon tried to minimize her limb length discrepancy by prematurely closing the growth plates of her long leg. Unfortunately, surgery was done too late and did not allow her body to correct the deformity.

Limb deformities are a result of a variety of causes. Most commonly, prior trauma results in either damage to growth plates or simply cause the bones to heal in an incorrect position. In Jenna’s case, her limb deformity was present at birth, also known as a congenital deformity. Jenna was not able to walk or stand as long as her friends. She grew accustomed to missing many social activities because this was all she knew. However, when she went to college, the increased physical demands of walking on campus pushed her to seek additional help.

“I could not even enjoy a day at an amusement park because my back would hurt so badly,” said Jenna. “Walking to and from classes in college was difficult because my back would hurt so bad that I would just hold back tears by the time I got to my class and could sit down.”

Limp Lengthening Surgery

This was when Jenna turned to OrthoIndy because she knew they would be able to find a surgeon that could help her. Jenna met with Dr. Stephen Greenfield, an OrthoIndy surgeon who specializes in limb deformity. “I chose Dr. Greenfield because he was very personable and I clicked with him at my first appointment,” said Jenna.

After a thorough physical exam and in-depth analysis of her X-rays, Dr Greenfield determined that not only did she have a leg length discrepancy, but also her knee joint had formed at an angle.

“Jenna has a very rare abnormality of her knee with both the femur and tibia affected in a way that hides the problem. A much more common and easier problem to treat is when patients have knock-knee or bow-leg deformities, which often result from malformations of one bone,” said Dr. Greenfield.

While Jenna’s leg appeared straight, she had nearly 20 degrees of obliquity at the joint.

“Fortunately, we found this early,” said Dr. Greenfield, “She would surely develop arthritis of the knee but not be a candidate for a joint replacement due to this deformity.”

There were also a few obstacles to planning the surgery that Dr. Greenfield overcame.

“I could not have my surgeries at OrthoIndy Hospital because I have a blood disorder,” said Jenna. “That did not deter Dr. Greenfield in any way. He personally spoke to my hematologist and scheduled the surgery at the hospital where my doctor could keep an eye on me. That was when I knew that Dr. Greenfield was the best surgeon for me!”

Once Dr. Greenfield came up with a plan, Jenna underwent surgery.

“Limb deformity correction is a slow process. In the operating room, we carefully cut the bone through very small incisions. The small incisions, in addition to being better for patient comfort, also helps the bone grow faster,” Dr Greenfield explained. “In Jenna’s case, we had to perform two separate operations to accurately correct both the length discrepancy and angular deformity.”

Recovery and Life After Surgery

After limb deformity correction surgery, patients make small daily adjustments and frequent visits to the office to monitor the process. During this phase, it is critical they stretch to prevent joints becoming stiff. Once the bone heals enough to bear weight fully, patients work aggressively with physical therapists to improve strength and motion.

“Our hope, with patients like Jenna, is they return to full activity and are able to forget about their old deformity,” Dr Greenfield said.

That’s just what Jenna plans to do. “Now, after surgery, I’m feeling good,” said Jenna. “I have noticed that my back hurts way less often than it used to, and my knee pain has vanished.”

Now, Jenna is focused on graduating from college. “I recently found out that I was accepted into the medical imaging program at my school. I’m so excited to start this next chapter in my life. Who knows – maybe I’ll work at OrthoIndy one day?”

Jenna credits Dr. Greenfield and her physical therapist for her results.

“I truly believe that I could not have gotten through my surgeries and recovery if it weren’t for Dr. Greenfield,” said Jenna. “I want to say thank you so much to Dr. Greenfield for pushing me to stay strong through the entire process. I also want to thank my physical therapist, Amanda, for working with me and for always being so patient with me.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenfield, please call 317.575.2720 or request an

appointment online at OrthoIndy.com/Request.

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By OrthoIndy

Founded over 50 years ago, OrthoIndy is one of the most highly respected orthopedic practices in the Midwest. With over 70 physicians providing care to central Indiana residents from more than 10 convenient locations, OrthoIndy provides leading-edge bone, joint, spine and muscle care.

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