Bow-leggedness is the appearance of the leg as it curves outwards from the knees; this is medically termed ‘genu varum’. Parents typically notice that when the child is standing at attention, the ankles are touching but there is a large gap between the knees.
Bow legs are common in babies due to the confined space inside the womb causing the tibia bones to be pressed together, this is typical of paediatric growth and is called physiologic bow legs. While some medical professionals will recommend massage as a baseline treatment for this issue, casting should be considered for obvious cases as such treatments are more likely to be effective if the child is treated before they start walking.
When should a parent be concerned?
After your child is aged 2 and walking, if you are concerned about the shape of the hips, knees or feet then it is advisable to see a podiatrist for assessment of the lower limbs.
Key things to note:
- Are the legs straightening on their own?
- Is the bowing asymmetrical?
- One leg more bowed than the other?
- Is the child experiencing pain, limping, weakness or having trouble running/jumping?
The podiatrist may request for an x-ray of the hips, knees or feet, in specific cases to rule out Blount’s disease, or refer for blood tests to rule out conditions such as rickets if this has not already been done.