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Alternative name: Genu Varum

What are bowlegs?

Bowlegs is a term used to describe a condition in which, when a person stands with their feet and ankles together, their knees remain far apart.

What are the signs of bowlegs?

  • Knees remain far apart when both feet and ankles are touching
  • Patient is over three years old and still has bowlegs

How are bowlegs caused?

Babies and small children are bowlegged due to their position in the womb. Usually when an infant starts walking, the legs will straighten out and correct the problem. Other causes of bowlegs include:

  • Blount's disease, a growth-related condition, in which the inner part of the bone just below the knee develops a curvature due to the weight placed on the knee
  • Bone dysplasia (abnormal bone growth or development)
  • Rickets

How does a doctor tell if a patient has bowlegs?

The doctor will take some of the following steps to see if a patient has bowlegs:

  • Make a visual exam of the legs, after which a doctor can often confirm that a patient has the condition
  • Order an X-ray to help in diagnosis

How are bowlegs treated?

Usually, there is no treatment recommended for bowlegs, especially in young children. Braces may be used in Blount's disease. Surgery is rarely needed to correct the problem. In rickets, supplements of vitamin D and calcium are prescribed.

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