What are bowed legs?
Bowed legs are when a child stands with their feet together, there is a distinct space between their knees and lower legs. This may result from either one or both legs curving outward. This condition is common in toddlers, and generally the legs will straighten as the child grows. However, if it persists there may be an underlying cause and require treatment.
- Most often this condition is asymptomatic
- Unusual walking pattern – this can be in combination with inward rotation of the feet (in-toeing).
- Knee instability
- Hip, knee and ankle discomfort or pain.
- Difficulty running
- Physiologic – normal part of growth and development (most common), seen from birth until 2-3 years of age.
- Blount’s disease – an abnormality in the growth plate of the tibia.
- Skeletal dysplasia
- Benign tumours or tumour conditions
When should parents be concerned?
Bowed legs in toddlers usually isn’t cause for concern and should improve as your child gets older. Most commonly it will resolve by 3 years of age with normal development. However, seek medical review if:
- Your child has a limp or pain in their legs
- Difficulty in walking
- Only one leg is affected, or one leg is significantly worse than the other
- Bowed legs are severe
- Persisting beyond 3 years old
- Lack of spontaneous resolution or progressive deformity
- Your child is unusually short for their age
- Develops later in childhood or after a traumatic event
- Has a known underlying condition
Through physical examination of the legs and gait. Measurements of the distance between both knees may be taken and monitored overtime.
Your doctor may arrange x-ray imaging for further assessment or confirmation of diagnosis.
Treatment is rarely needed and most commonly as your child grows their legs will straighten. Majority will grow out of the condition by 3 years of age. Depending on the underlying cause and extent of deformity, bracing, surgery, or a combination of both may be used.
Surgery is only required if a severe deformity is present or persisting, the deformity is asymmetric, there is significant difficulty with pain or mobility which could be improved.