Bowlegs

Bowlegs are a condition in which the knees bow outward.  When the feet are placed together there is a distinct space between the knees.  Bowing can occur at the knees, the upper shin, the lower femur or a combination of the three.  Bowing gives the legs the appearance of an archer’s bow hence the name ‘bowlegs’.  The technical name for bowlegs is genu varum.  Bowlegs are common in toddlers under 3 years old.  Typically, children grow out of bowlegs with no obvious signs of bowing later in life.  Other measure may be necessary when a child is severely bow-legged, the bowing gets worse or the child is over age 3.

 

My bowed legs prior to first surgery to correct the condition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Causes

-the folded position of the fetus during pregnancy

-bone dysplasia (abnormal development)

-lead or fluoride poisoning

-Rickets (vitamin D deficiency) or

-inherited

The only form of bowlegs that is preventable is Rickets.  Supplements of vitamin D usually correct bowlegs that are a result of Rickets.  Rickets is rarely seen in Western cultures.

 

Treatment of Bowlegs (when necessary)

My bowed legs as a teen-ager (after 1 surgery on both legs & 1 additional surgery on right leg only). Note the distinct bowing of the right leg still present after 2 surgeries.

-special shoes

-leg braces

-cast

-surgery

Surgery is a last resort.  Surgery is only performed in severe cases of bowed legs.

 

Complications

Bowleggedness that persists after treatment may lead to osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees or hips.  Most commonly OA manifests in the knees because of the additional pressure put on the medial (inner knee) compartment of the knee.

OA is the most common form of arthritis.

 

Bowlegs versus Pigeon Toed

Bowed legs are often confused with pigeon toed.  They are two different conditions.  Pigeon toed is a normal variation in the way the feet and legs are aligned.  Pigeon toed is normally not treated because it typically does not interfere with normal activities such as walking, running or playing sports.

 

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