Bowlegs

Alternative Names

Genu varum

Definition of Bowlegs

Bowlegs is a condition in which the knees stay wide apart when a person stands with the feet and ankles together. In children under 18 months, it is considered normal.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

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).

Signs and tests

A doctor can often diagnose bowlegs by simply looking at the child. The distance between the knees is measured while the child is lying on the back.

Treatment

No treatment is recommended for bowlegs unless the condition is extreme. The child should be seen by the health care provider at least every 6 months.

Expectations (prognosis)

In many cases the outcome is good, and there is usually no problem walking.

Review

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. – 11/12/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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