|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative NamesGenu varum
Definition Return to top
Bowlegs is a condition in which the knees remain wide apart when a person stands with the feet and ankles together.
Causes Return to top
Infants are born bowlegged because of their folded position in the uterus. The infant's bowed legs begin to straighten once the child starts to walk and the legs begin to bear weight (about 12 to 18 months old).
Normal appearance is usually attained by the time the child is 3 years old. At this time, a child can usually stand with the ankles together and the knees just touch. If the bowed legs persist into this period, the child is called bowlegged.
Severely bowed legs can be a sign of rickets. Rickets is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, and in the United States, breast-fed infants with dark skin are most at risk. Other causes of bowleggedness include Blount's disease, bone dysplasias, and lead or fluoride intoxication.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
A doctor can usually diagnose bowlegs by simply looking at the child. Blood tests may be needed to rule out rickets.
X-rays may be necessary if the child is 3 years old or older, if the bowing is getting worse, if it is asymmetric, or if other findings suggest disease.
Treatment Return to top
No treatment is recommended for bowlegs unless the condition is extreme. The child should be reassessed at least every 6 months.
If the condition is severe, special shoes can be worn that rotate the feet outward with an 8 to 10 inch bar between them, although it is unclear how well these work. Occasionally, in an adolescent with severe bowlegs, surgery is performed to correct the deformity.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
In many cases the outcome is good, and there is usually no problem walking.
Possible Complications Return to top
There are usually no complications.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if your child shows persistent or worsening bowed legs after age 3.
Prevention Return to top
There is no known prevention other than that to avoid rickets. Make sure your child has normal exposure to sunlight and appropriate levels of vitamin D in the diet.
References Return to top
Canale ST. Osteochondrosis or epiphysitis and other miscellaneous affections. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 29.Update Date: 12/1/2008 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.