Bowed legs

Bowed legs — where the legs bend outwards at the knees — is a common condition in childhood. Most children will go through stages of having bowed legs as they grow. The medical name for bowed legs (also referred to as bowlegs) is physiologic genu varum.

Bowing of both legs is common in infants and children up to the age of 2 years. In fact, the majority of children have bowed legs at around 12 months of age.

As children start to walk, the bowing generally corrects itself, and in most cases it has corrected by 2 to 3 years of age.

Occasionally, there may be causes of bowed legs other than a variation of normal growth and development. See your doctor if:

  • the bowing seems to affect only one leg;
  • your child is not growing normally;
  • your child is older than 3 years of age;
  • your child has leg pain or a limp; or
  • the bowing seems to be getting worse as your child gets older.

References

1. Royal Children’s Hospital; Victorian Paediatric Orthopaedic Network. Bow legs and knock knees in children (updated Feb 2011). http://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/kidsconnect/BOWLEGS.pdf (accessed Feb 2013).
2. Children’s Hospital Westmead; Sydney Children’s Hospital; Kaleidoscope Children’s Health Network. Fact sheet: bowlegs and knock-knees (updated 10 July 2012). http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/bowlegs-and-knock-knees (accessed Feb 2013).
3. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bowed legs (reviewed Sep 2010). http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00230&webid=24DAE050 (accessed Feb 2013).
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