"Bowlegs." It's the common name used in place of a medical term – genu varum – for a condition almost all babies are born with. But when a child doesn't outgrow his or her "bow legs," Shriners Children's can help.
During the first year of life, the knee joints should move closer together as the thigh bone (femur) begins to slope downward and inward toward the knee. As the soles of the feet trend downward with the straightening of the tibia bone in the lower leg, cartilage hardens to bone, and the child begins to walk.
If your child's legs do not follow this this transition, their legs may appear to remain "bowed." Being bowlegged generally causes little or no effect on the ability to walk; however, if left untreated, stress upon the knees can lead to early onset of arthritis.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information
Most cases of bowlegs correct as the child grows, without treatment. If your child’s bowlegs are caused by another condition, such as rickets or Blount’s disease, treatment is likely needed.
Factors for Treatment
Your doctor will consider several factors when considering a recommendation for treatment. Those factors include:
- The age of your child
- Your child's overall health
- Medical history, the current extent of the condition, as well as the cause
- The likelihood that the bowlegs will interfere with your child's ability to walk or run
Corrective braces or, more infrequently, surgery may be recommended if your child's legs continue to curve more after age 2.
- Braces can gradually guide legs into a straighter position.
- An osteotomy is a surgery on the upper part of the shinbone to correct the lower limb alignment. This procedure is used only for the most severe cases of bowlegs.