Bowlegs

Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare is one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics. We offer comprehensive diagnosis, treatment and management of conditions such as bowlegs caused by Blount’s disease, bone malformations or other disorders. Our goal is to help patients achieve the best possible outcomes in a family-centered environment.

Why Choose Gillette?

  • Gillette is one of the nation’s Best Children’s Hospitals in pediatric orthopedics.
  • We provide nonsurgical and surgical treatments that allow our patients to achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of function and appearance.
  • Our specialists collaborate to provide care for children who have related conditions and other complex issues.
  • We believe that clinical research and an emphasis on outcomes promote the highest standards of care.

Definition

Bowlegs (genu varum) is a condition that causes both legs to curve outward. It typically can be seen when a child stands with the feet together; a space appears between the lower legs and knees. Many children are born with bowlegs, but it usually goes away by the time a child is 2 and has been walking for a while. If a child is still bowlegged after that time, an underlying condition, such as Blount’s disease or rickets, might be the cause.


Bowlegs Symptoms and Effects

Depending on the cause of bowlegs, symptoms can differ from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms of bowlegs are:

  • Knees that don’t touch when the feet are together and ankles are touching
  • Bowlegs that are present well after the time a child begins walking

When bowlegs are caused by Blount’s disease—a condition that causes abnormal growth of the tibia (shin bone)—increased bowing or problems with the knee joints are common symptoms. If the bowing is excessive, or if the condition persists into adolescence or adulthood, pain and problems with knee joint function are common long-term effects.


Bowlegs Incidence, Causes and Risk Factors

Bowlegs occurs most frequently in females and in African-American children. Children who are obese, or short, or who began walking early, are also at an increased risk for bowlegs.

Bowlegs is sometimes caused by:

  • Blount’s disease
  • Abnormal development or malformation of the bones
  • Bone fractures that did not heal properly
  • Lead or fluoride poisoning
  • Rickets, caused by a vitamin D deficiency

Bowlegs Diagnosis and Treatment

Bowlegs can typically be diagnosed during a physical examination by measuring the distance between the knees. X-rays are usually taken to determine if the condition is worsening or if it affects one side more than another. Additional testing, such as blood tests, can confirm the presence of any underlying medical conditions.

When bowlegs is severe or complicated by other medical conditions, Gillette staff might recommend braces or other orthopedic devices to help straighten the legs. In some severe cases, Gillette specialists might recommend surgery to alter the bone’s position or growth and correct lower limb alignment.


Bowlegs Services

At Gillette, we know that a team approach to care produces the best outcomes. Our experts collaborate to provide comprehensive services in a way that’s convenient for families.

In addition to receiving care from our experts in Orthopedics, patients who have bowlegs might also receive care from staff in:

We also welcome the involvement of primary care providers, teachers, and school or community therapists. Working together, we help patients achieve their best possible outcomes.

For information about the comprehensive services we provide at Gillette, search Conditions and Care.