Monday January 20 2014

How can I correct my knock knee?

An illustration of the different types of knee alignments.

An illustration of the different types of knee alignments. Photo by Chris Atukwasize. 

Dear Doctor: About 30 years ago, I used to play football. I do not remember getting injured during the process, but recently, my wife said I had enkobogo (knock knees) which our daughter also has. When I went to see the doctor, he confirmed that I actually had the condition in one leg. I have taken a lot of traditional medicine but this has not helped. What can I do?

Dear Latima: When babies less than one year old stand, their knees may curve away from each other (bow legs). These gradually straighten out and the child walks normally. Genu valgum is when the lower parts of legs, below the knees angle outward leaving the knees knocking each other (knock knees).

This can happen to both legs or one leg and knock knees may be seen to run in families. If it happens in one leg, it may have been due to other disease conditions including rickets (lack of Vitamin D) or lack of Vitamin C.

When the condition is mild as commonly seen in children under the age of six, this may disappear as they grow older. When genu valgum persists into adolescence, however, doctors may consider a brace and physiotherapy as treatment.

Adults with uncorrected knock knees (genu valgum), whether in one leg or both are prone to falls, injuries and leg joint problems (arthritis). In people with complications or where knock knee worsens later in life, surgery may be required.

And contrary to common belief, the use of herbs or bodybuilding exercise will not straighten knock knees in adults. You just need to know that the more you are conscious of your problem, the more other people are likely to take notice and you will become stressed.

Adults with your kind of problem are prone to the above mentioned problems, but since you do not yet have serious complaints, you should learn to live with the single knock knee. If you develop pain, you may have to consult a doctor who specialises in bone treatment. However, if you are obese, you need to lose some weight and your doctor can advise about the type of exercises and diet to undertake.

Dear Doctor: Does eating soil cause infertility?

Dear Reader: Pica is an eating disorder where one consumes non-food items including soil (geophagia). Some people wrongly believe eating soil makes especially women more attractive.
Many Ugandan markets sell soil mostly to pregnant women who have made it a habit to consume it
It is true that some pregnant women may crave soil just because of lack of blood forming iron in their bodies, but taking iron supplements from an antenatal clinic is more useful. A mental disorder sometimes may be responsible for the soil crave. Given the fact that some women crave soil when they are pregnant, it is unlikely that consuming it may cause infertility.

Of course, if one eats soil because of mental problems, they are more likely to fail to get pregnant as they may not easily relate sexually. That said, a woman who has mental problems may want to have sex with anybody, thereby getting pregnant easily.

Paraquat (a weed killer) poisoning is treated by swallowing soil because it is deactivated by soil, but this requires to be taken immediately when the poison is still in the stomach.
In cases of iron deficiency, treatment involves taking iron and Vitamin C supplements for greater iron absorption.

Also, dewormers such as mebendazole which is safer in pregnancy may be necessary.
Taking geophagia is likely to increase a person’s risk to metal poisoning, tetanus and if the soil is contaminated by human or dog excreta, it is likely to cause worm infestation in humans. However, although some people may eat soil without getting serious medical complications, those with geophagia which is associated with mental disorder may need psychiatric help.

Dear Doctor: There is a woman claiming the child she is carrying is mine. But because I cannot afford DNA, I used blood group to establish if the child is mine. My blood group is A-positive but the child is O-negative. The blood group for the child’s mother is B-positive. Surely this child cannot be mine.

Dear Ezra: In the past, blood groups were used to rule out rather than determine parenthood. Even to this day, they are not helpful at all times, the reason why DNA testing which is more definite has come in handy.

Blood groups are mainly classified by the ABO and the Rhesus type system. The four blood groups are A, B, AB and O. Each blood group is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative. The Rhesus factor is mostly important when a woman becomes pregnant and the ABO for blood transfusion. A person’s blood group is determined by a pair of genes, one each inherited from their mother and father. The blood group is determined by chemical substances called antigens located on the surfaces of red blood cells. For a person of blood group A, the pair of genes is AA or AO. For the mother who is blood group O, they are OO.

The resultant child then would be OO which gives blood group O or OA, which gives blood group A. Your child’s blood group O therefore is a normal finding for parents of group O and A. For the Rhesus group, the genes could be + - or ++ for Rhesus positive.

For both parents, since the child is Rhesus negative, you should be having +- genes. The blood group results in your case do not rule out your paternity. Blood groups may be found similar or conforming to parenthood by accident but not always by parenthood the reason why DNA tests which are more definitive are used.