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A to Z: Deformity, Acquired

May also be called: Acquired Deformity; Post-Traumatic Deformity

An acquired deformity is a change in the normal size or shape of a body part as a result of an injury, infection, arthritis, or tumor.

More to Know

A deformity is any sort of disfigurement or distortion that makes a part of the body a different size or shape than it would be normally. Deformities can be:

  • congenital: present at birth
  • developmental: appearing later in childhood
  • acquired: caused by injuries or illnesses that were not present at birth

Common causes of acquired deformities include misaligned broken bones, osteoarthritis (a disease that causes the joints to degenerate), and conditions like cancer and thyroid disease that cause tumors, goiters, or other masses to form.

Some acquired deformities may be visible, but many are not. Nonvisible symptoms depend on the cause of the deformity and include pain, decreased range of motion, and loss of function of the affected body part.

Treatment for an acquired deformity depends on the cause. Medications may be used to treat infections or diseases, and surgery may be done to realign bones or remove tumors.

Keep in Mind

Acquired deformities can be as simple as a bulge forming over a broken bone as it heals. In many cases, the deformity is harmless and requires no treatment.

When treatment is necessary for medical or cosmetic reasons, it often successfully corrects the deformity even if the underlying condition needs further treatment.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.