Hamstring Lengthening to Improve Walking

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What Is Hamstring Lengthening?

A doctor can recommend lengthening the hamstring muscle (the muscle that flexes the knee) to allow the knee to stretch out, become straighter and improve your child’s walking.

Surgery is done through an incision on the inside of the knee, about 1 to 1 ½ inches long. This surgery takes about 20 minutes per leg.

What Does This Surgery Help With?

Hamstring lengthening surgery:

  • Improves the knee’s ability to straighten, allowing for longer steps and a straighter knee when the foot hits the ground
  • Improves knee position when your child walks with knees bent
  • Improves how your child sits, preventing slumping and rolling back of the pelvis

Without surgery, the knee becomes stiffer and the kneecap often becomes painful.

Follow-Up

After surgery we usually place a long leg brace (knee immobilizer) that your child should wear at least 22 hours a day for the first six weeks. After that, every night for up to two years or for life, depending on the treatment plan. Your child can continue physical therapy after this surgery. Kids often are more comfortable standing or walking with the knee immobilizer on at first, but quickly regain confidence and stand or walk without it.

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