Kohler’s Disease: Causes and Treatments

Image Credit: Mid-Michigan Foot and Ankle Center 

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Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

What is Kohler’s Disease? 

Our feet are designed to provide us with mobility, as well as to absorb varying stresses and strains during physical activity. Kohler’s disease is a medical condition normally found in young children as an abnormality during growth and development. As a rare bone disorder, it is found to be influenced by stress-related compression during a child’s development. 

What are the symptoms of Kohler’s disease? 

Kohler’s disease predominantly occurs in young male children between the ages of 1-10 years old. The peak range is between 3-7 years old. The root cause, whether genetic or environmentally induced, is still being investigated by medical researchers. It is initially detected via limping and painful swelling of the feet. Female children have significantly less odds of developing Kohler’s disease. Medical statistics indicate that male children have five times the odds of developing the condition. According to the pain felt by the child, he/she may often start walking on the side of the foot in order to minimise the sensation. Other symptoms experienced by children include: 

  • Pain or tenderness along the length of the arch of the foot
  • Pain during walking or standing
  • Navicular bone blood supply is affected, resulting in bone degradation

How is Kohler’s Disease Diagnosed? 

Whenever there is a persistent pain in the foot and ankle region, it should be assessed by an orthopaedic specialist. During the consultation, X-rays of the feet will be taken, in order to have a better understanding of the inner state of the feet. In the affected foot, the X-ray will normally show flattening, sclerosis and fragmentation of the navicular bone [1]. Normal feet will not have this condition, and the skeletal structure will be healthy. 

How is Kohler’s disease treated?

Kohler’s disease will naturally resolve itself, if the right conditions are induced for healing. In acute cases, the symptoms will last for a few days. In more severe cases, symptoms can last for six months to two years. Treatment plans often involve alleviating pain initially, and then enabling the foot to heal by having patients eliminate pressure on the feet. Orthopaedic specialists may prescribe the utilisation of casts, to keep the feet stabilised. They may also recommend that patients wear special shoes that can support the feet. With the appropriate treatment plan, full recovery and restoration of the function of the feet is possible. 

Reference Article: 

Rare Diseases: Kohler’s Disease 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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